In a few short days, 2017 will come to a close. Before you start making plans for next year, there is something important you should do.
Give yourself the gift of reviewing what you accomplished this year.
Most of us look ahead at the next hurdle to get over, rather than looking back at how far we have come.
The baby steps that seemed insignificant at the time add up to a huge leap over the course of time.
Too often I fail to appreciate the accomplishments. It’s important to celebrate all my little victories instead of focusing on what didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped.
Even navigating through a difficult situation is something to be proud of.
Did you embark on a program to improve your health? Make a move toward healing a broken relationship? Did you learn something new? Work on restoring balance to your life? Congratulations! The first step is always the hardest and you took it. If your plans didn’t turn out as you hoped they would remember you made the effort once and can do it again.
Be proud of what you have accomplished. Pat yourself on the back for the effort put forth.
Celebrate the milestones, both small and large and let them propel you forward. Know that past experiences are stepping stones to a bigger and brighter future.
We are all works in progress, so please join me in celebrating the progress made this year.
“Wherever you get to is better than where you started. To stay on the road is a massive achievement.” Anthony Joshua
Christmas blessings to you and your families as you celebrate the birth of Jesus.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12 (NIV)
A couple of months ago a friend celebrated the birth of a new baby. This child was eagerly awaited and loved long before she drew her first breath. The baby is not the first child in the family but this doesn’t diminish the devotion lavished on her.
She is loved unconditionally even though she can give nothing in return. She is loved for her very existence in this moment and not for what she may become in the future. Her family is committed to nurture and guide her as she grows.
This is the way God loves each one of us. I know he loves me just as I am. Even when I have nothing to give back, he still cares.
He is watching over me and is always there to nurture, support and guide me to reach my full potential. When I cry out to him in prayer, he takes care of my needs.
I can have this relationship with God because he sent Jesus to demonstrate his great love for me. Jesus left his heavenly home and came to earth as a helpless baby. He knew the sacrifice he was making. It was for you and for me. This is the greatest gift known to mankind.
Let us think of that sacrificial love as we celebrate the gift of the baby Jesus this Christmas.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 NIV)
One of my favourite parts of Christmas celebrations is the carols sung. Did you ever stop to think that the song the angels sang the night Jesus was born would have been the very first Christmas carol?
I knew that the tradition of singing Christmas carols was centuries old, but never really thought about the fact that when we sing carols at Christmas, we are carrying on with a tradition of praise that started the day that Jesus Christ was born. No wonder these songs that we only hear for a short period of time every year hold such a special place in our hearts and memories.
How many of you have a favourite Christmas carol? I have several. I enjoy the traditional songs Oh Little Town of Bethlehem; Silent Night; While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night; and Joy to the World, because they tell the story of that night in a manner that all can relate to.
My heart soars as I picture the angels singing when they announced the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps that’s why “Angels From the Realms of Glory” is also a favourite. The very words take me back to that starry night.
Christmas carols were one of the ways of getting the story of Jesus birth to the common folk in days gone by. These people didn’t have the means to learn to read – or even to own a book if they could read. In order for the church leaders to get the Christmas story to these people, they had to find methods other than the written word. One of these was to write songs or Christmas carols.
So, when you hear Christmas carols this season, think of the deep meaning behind the words.
“At once the angel was joined by a huge angelic choir singing God’s praises: Glory to God in the heavenly heights, Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.” (Luke 2:13,14 MSG)
Do you have any special Christmas traditions? Are there activities, outings or special foods that signify the season for you? They may have been carried forward in your family for years, decades or generations.
How easy is it for you to adapt to changes in your traditions?
I grew up in a home where we were able to choose one of the presents under the tree to open on Christmas Eve. When I got married this changed. My husband was of the opinion that all gifts waited until Christmas morning. It was time to form new traditions together.
When my children were young teenagers we would pick my mother up in the afternoon of Christmas Eve and bring her our house to spend the next few days.
She would come to church with our family on Christmas Eve. Afterwards, we would drive around various neighbourhoods admiring Christmas light displays. Upon returning home it was time for hot chocolate and cookies.
One year, my husband made us clubhouse sandwiches on Boxing Day. Little did he know this was the start of a brand new tradition! Boxing Day has been synonymous with clubhouse sandwiches ever since!
Some traditions change out of necessity. My mom is no longer with us and our kids now have families of their own. One thing has not changed in over twenty years. We may not all be together to open gifts or enjoy a turkey dinner on Christmas Day but nobody wants to miss out on our clubhouse gathering on Boxing Day!
It’s funny how something little like this takes hold and becomes such a big part of our lives. Tell me about the traditions that have become part of your family heritage?
I was in Mexico in late November and enjoyed seeing the festive decorations. While in a large store I turned to head up another aisle and saw a display that took my breath away. The poinsettias for sale were three feet tall! How I wished I could bring one home with me.
I remembered that this showy plant is native to Mexico but that was the extent of my knowledge. I decided to do some research and found that, in its natural habitat, the poinsettia is a perennial shrub that can grow ten to fifteen feet tall. And I thought the ones I saw were large!
How did they become associated with Christmas, I wondered? I turned to Wikipedia for my answer.
Legend tells of a girl who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus’ birthday. She was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from beside the road and place them in front of the church altar. Crimson blossoms sprouted from the weeds, resulting in the flower we know as a poinsettia.
There were some other interesting facts, but it was the legend that captured my mind. I can relate to a gift of weeds being transformed into blossoms. No gift is too small for God to use. I learned this first hand when I gave my life to Jesus. He will take whatever we give Him and turn it into something unexpected and beautiful. That is why I honour Jesus, not only at Christmas but every day.
“And you’ve become a new person. The new person is continually renewed in knowledge to be like its Creator.” (Colossians 3:10 GWT)
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2 NLT)
Have you completed your Christmas shopping? Some gifts are purchased, some are lovingly hand-made and others come straight from the heart.
Of the many gifts given and received over the Christmas season, often those most valuable are the ones that don’t come from a store.
One of the most thoughtful gifts I ever received came from my daughter. She didn’t have a lot of money but wanted to do something special for me.
I had a drawer full of recipes cut from the newspaper, jotted on scrap paper or passed on from friends. My daughter took the opportunity to go through these whenever I wasn’t home and neatly print the favourites onto recipe cards, which she placed in a small file box. This allowed me to find the ones I wanted with ease. Almost twenty years later, I still use and appreciate this gift.
My children, now grown with families of their own, don’t remember a lot of Christmas gifts received while they were young. What they do remember is receiving a new board game every year. We would spend hours as a family playing these games. The time spent together is what their memories are made of.
Over the years I’ve given and received some wonderful gifts. I’d be happy to share more of them but would rather hear about yours. What are some of the best gifts you remember and what make them special.
I’ll do a draw from the comments I receive and one of you will win a gift from me!
A change in weather during our tropical vacation forced us indoors.
The wind lashed the rain against our windows. It didn’t take long for the deluge to fill the tracks and overflow, forming pools on the tile floor. The water was noticed before it spread far enough to do damage. We mopped up and kept an eye on the offending area.
After the storm subsided, no evidence of the excess moisture remained. We were lucky this time.
It would have been easy to put this behind us and forget it ever happened. However, someone will need to take care of the necessary maintenance to the window track. If not, the problem will reoccur. Maybe not this week, or even this month, but the consequences could be worse next time.
Regular maintenance is also necessary for our lives. Storms lie ahead for each of us. We don’t know when, or how hard they may hit. The better I prepare myself in the good times, the less damage there will when the tempests of life strike.
The ability to survive the tough times is gained through my relationship with God. Spending time in prayer and reading the Bible enables me to build a shelter I can trust. God has promised to keep me safe in the trials of life. When I walk closely with Him, I know any storm damage will be lessened.
When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. (Isaiah 43:2 LT)