Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas Time Is Here

It's the most wonderful time of the year. It really is. Celebrating Jesus. Family. Friends. Caramel corn. Everything about Christmas is magical. I love it. Love it all.

We tend to get so caught up in the crazy, wonderful activities around the holidays. Dinners, parties, gifts, etc. It's easy to forget that it can be a hard time for some people.

While Christmas holds so much joy for many, it can be a reminder of loneliness for others. When I moved back to Montana, I had to spend the holidays without my family for the first time in years. I'll be honest. I spent those first two Christmas Eves getting drunk. It was a time in my life when I was re-establishing my faith in God, but when December hit, I was a tsunami of emotions. I was alone during a time that people normally spend with those they love. And I had no one. So I drank, and drank, and drank. Fantastic solution.

Things have changed, not to say it's easy to be approaching my fifth Christmas in a row 1200 miles away from my family, but I now have an amazing support system of friends...and a tiny, two-person family of my own.

I don't know how I would have made it these past years without the wonderful friends God has placed in my life.

I'd like to issue a challenge this Christmas. Be that person. The one who makes a difference in a lonely person's life. Go out of your way to invite someone to your holiday celebrations this year, or make them dinner sometime this month. You have no idea how a simple gesture can pull a grateful soul out of the pit of December depression. To know that someone cares, someone wants you around during such a special time, that goes a long way.

Now, don't get caught up on the semantics of this challenge. Lonely can describe so many people at this time of year. Don't look specifically for someone without family close by. Find someone who has recently been dumped, lost their job, had a loved one pass away, or someone who is just plain separated from Jesus. We all know a person that is going through something difficult during the holidays. Be the person that helps them get to their feet and carry on.



2013 Pre-Christmas family time was great:

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A New Way Of Living

My lovely friend was in a car accident last week. Don't worry, she and her son are doing ok. But it got me thinking about how scary it must have been for them. Spinning across the road, not knowing what was coming next. It brought back memories of an accident my mother and I were in a long time go.

I tend have an over-active imagination. In my life, I've imagined myself in horrific car accidents many-a-time. These "daydreams" often involve me worrying about my own well-being and safety. I always freak out, wondering if I'm about to die in these scenarios. Here's the thing about our real life car accident...the entire time our vehicle was flipping across the ground, I didn't think about myself even once. The only thing I could think about was my mom. I was so terrified that something would happen to her, that I would be fine, and she wouldn't. When the Explorer stopped rolling, I remember screaming, "MOM, ARE YOU OK????"

By God's grace, we both escaped without a scratch.

Remembering that time in our lives made me realize I should live like that more often. Not that I should intentionally get in car accidents, but that I should focus less on myself more regularly. Philippians 2:3 tells me to make other people more important than myself. We're on this earth to do God's Will. To be an example of His grace every day.  Jesus is the ultimate role model for selflessness. We are supposed to live in His image, to follow His lead. We should make every effort to serve those around us with an attitude of love.

One way I can do this is at home. Instead of being a lazy-bones and expecting my husband to empty the dishwasher or take care of random things around the house, I could simply do these things myself with a happy heart. He spends so much time figuring out our budget and paying the bills, the least I can do is finish the household chores without grumbling.

So that's the plan. My first step toward a less selfish lifestyle. Serving my husband in our home, without a crabtastic attitude. We'll see what comes next, these sorts of commitments tend to start a domino effect in our lives. Hopefully this will get me started on a path to be more like Jesus.



Monday, December 1, 2014

I Get Knocked Down...But I Get Up Again

I had this realization about a week ago: I've changed. Drastically, but not permanently. And I'm not talking a pleasant change. Not to go deep into detail, but I had someone close to me betray me. She was a friend one minute, a foe the next. She started talking behind my back, stealing friends, etc. It was unpleasant to say the least. People say that words can't hurt you, it's not true. Words can cut so deep. They can strip you of trust, break down your self-worth. I became suspicious, wary. Where I was once a goofy, fun person; I turned toward distrust and bitterness. I knew, just knew, that if someone I was so close to could be so cruel...every one of my other friends must be capable of the same betrayal.

To be honest, this is the second time in my life this has happened to me. I just don't understand some humans. But I don't need to understand them. I need to understand myself. They're clearly hurting, and hopefully someone will come beside them in life and help them find healing. In the mean time, I need to seek God's help in my own healing. I want to be fun again. I want to be that silly, goofy girl that people are drawn to. I'm so thankful for the amazing friends, family, and husband who have stood by my side while it's taken me so much time to realize what is happening inside of myself.

I don't want to spend every minute of my day wondering who is going to hurt me next and how they're going to do it. I want to experience beauty in each moment. I want to find joy in every experience. I want to love those around me. I want to be a light.

My focus needs to be on Jesus and His love for me in everything, not what the next person could do to me. If I live my life focused on those around me, I shove God out of it. I only have the capacity to make one thing the focus of my time and energy. If it's not God, then I'm not living up to my potential.

This world is an amazing place, there is so much beauty surrounding us. There are so many things to find joy in, to cherish. Worrying about things beyond our control is simply a waste. I want to be the recipient of Romans 15:13: "May the God of all hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

Once I realized how much I had changed, I knew that something needed to be done. I decided to be my old self again. I asked God to fill me with joy. Several days later, during a night of worship at our church, I could feel a tangible release of the frustration and entrance of the peace of the Holy Spirit. It was pure. While I continue to struggle with distrust and insecurity, the reminder of that night keeps bringing me back to a place of contentment.

God is faithful.

"When we put God into the details of our lives, life fills with beauty." -Chris Tomlin