Faith and Intentional Celebrations

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

The other day I was driving with my grandchildren, and we were chatting about Christmas and what they like about it. They were discussing how they not only enjoy the blessing of receiving gifts, but they also really enjoy giving gifts. This touched my heart, but then one of them mentioned they like the anticipation of Christmas, but then the aftermath leaves them feeling down and empty. She mentioned it was going to be an entire year before Christmas came again, her favorite holiday. Putting the decorations away made her sad. Her thoughts resonated with mine as well. When I am alone in my home, looking at the remnants of the happy time we had together and dismantling the decorations, I often get sad. I just want more time together, but that isn’t realistic. Looking back, I realize this perspective can either motivate me to enjoy the time together, let that sadness steal the joy of the present. It is important to celebrate intentionally Jesus’ birth and our family and friends. I don’t mean to add any stress to an already stressful time, but to encourage us to release our faith, that God desires to use this time of celebration for His good.

Our present is always fleeting. As I’ve grown older, I recognize how quickly babies turn into toddlers, toddlers into pre-schoolers, etc. My oldest grandson is in college now. The time just flew by. So, my friends, please take the time to enjoy this present season. This past year, I have lost many friends. There are empty places at my friend’s table this year. I know they would say: love your family a little longer, don’t worry about the small stuff, say the words you need to say. Clear the air if possible of any struggles and choose to enjoy those you care about.

Be patient with yourself as well. None of our lives is a Hallmark movie set, nor scripted to have a happy ending. LIfe often is difficult, but that is when intentional celebration can be even more meaningful. Accept that fact (no perfection) and enjoy what you do have. God is with you, just as He was with Mary and Joseph. Look for opportunities to encourage those around you. Before our family opens presents, we give each other “word gifts”. It is a precious time to share words of genuine encouragement.

Holidays can be brutal emotionally for those who feel alone, or are in fact separated by miles or circumstances from family. I encourage you to reach out to others. The temptation for self-pity to come knocking at your door is strong. Fight it, my friends. Look at what you do have, rather than what you don’t. Reach out. Be pro active in your celebration of Jesus’ birth. Help someone else. Take time to write down the things you for which you are grateful. It is ok to be sad, but don’t dive deep into the quicksand of self pity. Often (from experience) you can’t recover as soon as you think.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain the heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12 This includes times of celebration. Let’s make them count, but not in a stressful way. Release your faith that as you bring God into the mix, it will be good. The first Christmas without my husband, Darryl, I faced a quandary. What to do with his Christmas stocking. We ended up letting everyone who wanted to write a note about him, and putting in the stocking. These are precious memories, I still read. Make memories! Take pictures to preserve them. It’s important.

Father, I ask that you help us learn to celebrate Your birth with joy, with peace, and with less stress. I ask that You comfort all those who are missing someone this year. Help us to redeem that time with our loved ones. Lead us to encouraging conversations and fill our homes with Your grace, mercy and patience. Thank you for showing up in special ways for the lonely. Help us help them as we can. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

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