I’m dreaming of a [realistic] Christmas

Why does television still boast the gold standard of the perfect Christmas?  Family (who by the way, actually want to be together) gathered around a beautiful tree, everyone laughing and sharing hot cocoa, and giving each other either a new car or expensive jewelry. Every time I see it I can’t help but go, Psh, Yeah right!

Reality check: Only God knows how many people will feel the sting of a lonesome Christmas devoid of peace. It’s just a painful reminder of what is lacking.

And each year, medication is taken in the form of Christmas movies, sweets, shopping, and tons of eggnog help to distract from and numb the pain of reality. All we need, we tell ourselves, is “to get through the holidays”.

But we were formed by God for perfection. Our hearts were meant to live in a perfect world. That’s why we will never be able to find peace anywhere else but in God himself. Christmas as we see it in commercials doesn’t have it. Rather:

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

Romans 5:8

God sent Jesus to be born here, to live a sinless life, and then to die on behalf of us. That we might repent and turn toward God, praising and glorifying Him. But how can we do that when we have so many confusing messages turning our heads this way and that?

I don’t have all the answers, but I know the One who does.

If you are struggling with the idea of another [insert adjective here] Christmas you’re not alone. There is a God who is Good and True. Your very existence and design was His idea and he is enormously proud of His work. His right hand is extended even now, to gift you with a kind of peace that will never allow you to hunger or thirst for the things that rot and rust (like a Toyota Christmas commercial). He will offer Living Water and Bread of Life that will keep you full and satisfied forever.

Receive that gift and watch it transform your heart. The gratitude of salvation causes hope, which is an ever-leaning upon God’s promises. The more we take His promises as unshakable truth in our life, the more we will witness His work in our lives. And that’s an expectation you can rely upon.

#Cupgate – The Controversy That Shocked A Nation

I don’t always discern decisions as much as I should, but I have found that it has stopped me from writing many a ranting post on Facebook or this blog. Every day our feeds are filled with the awful, the ridiculous, the sensational (Like Donald Trump trying to run for president).

I will often get halfway through typing a scathing social commentary on whichever controversy-of-the-day, only to realize that by doing so I am falling right into the trap. Instead of representing Jesus in my words and behavior I’m doing the very thing I most commonly rant about, which is to be a Christian hypocrite.

So when I first heard about #cupgate2015 I tried to ignore it but there’s something about this one that is so utterly absurd that I had to write about it. And here I am… If you’re reading this, it means that I have not yet decided to crumple this rant into the proverbial trash can.

This isn’t new, of course. Some 8 or 9 years ago I can remember a group that tried to organize a boycott of large department stores like Macy’s and Target over their decision to deliberately leave out the word “Christmas” in their holiday advertising (how’d that work out for ya?). I actually wrote a term paper on it, and remember getting through a few different drafts of it before giving up completely because the subject was so absurd I couldn’t truly do justice to what I wanted to say. But I’m a little older and (I hope) a little wiser, and the timing feels right to give it another try.

(Fun fact: this article was also fueled by a Grande soy latte out of one of “Satan’s Sippers” thanks to my husband who loves to encourage me in my writing.)

12195956_10153752548887996_6219266303913172357_n#cupgate has got me in a strange state somewhere between grief and amusement. Probably about 70/30.

I’m Christian. I love Jesus and I try to live my life according to God’s will. So when I see the myriads of “controversies” dredged up by people claiming to be the same, I get frustrated.

I  don’t need to see snowmen on my Starbucks cup in order to feel good about my choice to follow Jesus. I don’t need the snow motifs, I don’t need to see “Merry Christmas” on my Macy’s ads, and I don’t get all up in arms when I see that my local supermarket parking lot is decorated with “Season’s Greetings” banners.

But you know what does make me upset? When I open my Facebook feed in the morning and I’m barraged by videos, posts, and rants going back and forth about this. Let’s get something straight here: The outraged “Christians” who make cup design a platform for evangelization are not following Jesus by doing so. In fact I think we can safely say they are effectively de-evangelizing the populace. Because the Christians that are actually working for peace, the weak, and the marginalized, have a kind of perspective and inner peace that only true faith in Jesus can bring. Sorry to be such a Linus here, but THAT’s what Christmas is all about.

“This is the kind of fast day I’m after:

    to break the chains of injustice,
    get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
    free the oppressed,
    cancel debts.
What I’m interested in seeing you do is:
    sharing your food with the hungry,
    inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
    putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
    being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
    and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
    The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
    You’ll call out for help and I’ll say, ‘Here I am.’

Isaiah 58:1-9 MSG (emphasis mine)

So in conclusion, let’s put Christ back into Christian and move on to things that really matter, like protesting gender-neutral dolls and gay penguin weddings.*

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it, please follow me above.


 *gratuitous 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation joke

5 Reasons to have a Christmas card making party! @ThriftyGoodness

ThriftyGoodness’ Rebecca has me so excited and inspired by this idea! Explore more ideas by her at http://thriftygoodness.blogspot.com/

Ok It’s no secret that Christmas is without a doubt my FAVORITE holiday. I love everything about it. The pumpkin spice, the fire, the 25 Days of Christmas on TV, baking, buying presents, everything!! (I even listen to my Charlie Brown Christmas cd when no one is around, but you didn’t hear that from me)

So dear friends, it’s easy to see why I saw this article on Thrifty Goodness and nearly had a conniption of joy!

Here is a creative challenge for you, if you are up to it. (Even if you’re “not the creative type” perhaps you can still get something special)

5 Reasons to have a Christmas card making party:

1. Fellowship. You get to hang out with some like-minded buddies, sharing hot cocoa and stories. (and watch Elf?!?!)

2. Your chance to get creative! Everyone can bring whatever craft/art supplies are sitting around and share them in the middle. Scourge the dollar bins at Michaels or Target – Bring scrapbooking paper, stencils, glitter, printed pictures of your family, cheap dollar store christmas cards to embellish, etc.Christmas-Carnival-Altered-Box-and-Card-Tanya-Tahir-440x289

3. You can turn it into a ministry! A chance to pray for each and every person/family in a special way as you put together one-of-a-kind card for them.

4. Did you know crafting and creating is good for you? It’s important to have a way to relax and wind down, and making things is a great way of releasing stress and taking your mind off things.

5. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 says:

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (emphasis mine)

Giving isn’t just about money and possessions. It has to do with a state of the heart – even a surrender of the will. In my heart my sin desires to be satisfied by focusing on myself. Making beautiful creations for others and the happy feeling when you give, are just a few small ways you can allow the Holy Spirit to work in your life.