Angels Announced His Birth

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“For unto us a child is born,

unto us a son is given,

and the government shall be upon his shoulder;

and his name shall be called Wonderful,

Counselor,

The Mighty God,

The Everlasting Father,

The Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end,

upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it,

and to establish it with justice and with righteousness

from henceforth even forever.

The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”

Isaiah 9:6-7 (KJV)

 

Lord Jesus, as we reflect on Your First Advent, we await Your Second Advent when You shall truly bring peace to the earth and the restoration of all things. Amen

 

BLESSINGS OF THE SEASON TO ALL!!!

 

Image by Thomas B. Courtesy of Pixabay.

“We Like America!”

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Last evening, my husband and I went to look at the lights and fountains at “The Village” here in the city we live in. The lights are usually spectacular during this season and it is one of my favorite things to do. It was cold and so we went and stood by one of the gas-lit fireplaces that are around the complex. Two young men were standing there and they began to share their story with us.

They had come to America some twenty years ago during the civil war in Bosnia. Their family had come en route through Germany and then on to the U.S. The oldest had been a teenager when they made their journey. When we asked him if he missed his native country, he explained that there was a large Bosnian community here. They even had a mosque down the street where they could worship. Although they personally didn’t celebrate Christmas, they were enjoying the beautiful lights and dancing waters of the fountains. When we were ready to leave, they both shook our hands and the oldest one said, “We like America!”

As we left those two young men, I thought about all their family had gone through to get here. I was so pleased we had taken in refugees who were fleeing a civil war and needed the physical safety our country could provide. I was proud that our city had taken in many from their country so they wouldn’t have to live in cultural isolation from their native land. Here they had the opportunity to enjoy the best of both worlds. All in all, it was a great day to be an American!

Image by Mircea Lancu. Courtesy of Pixabay.

Madison Avenue – Vanguard for Crass Christmas Commercialism

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Madison Avenue has always been the vanguard for Christmas commercialism. Over the decades, it has moved the cultural needle on Christmas from a religious holiday to one that is secular. I have watched this trend over the years but I was not prepared for what was presented to the public this holiday season. I probably should have seen it coming but I didn’t. Madison Avenue gave us its ultimate goal in crass Christmas commercialism…egocentric giving.

You heard it right. Over the Thanksgiving weekend, the majority of commercials on television sent out the message loud and clear. The goal for this season is to give yourself the gift you want. It started with a commercial for a luxury model car. Every person in the commercial had given themselves one for Christmas. Just in case the gullible consumer was not picking up on the message, one man’s car had a tag on it that said : To James, From James. This commercial has continued to air on prime time during the month of December.

The second commercial only lasted a few days. Was there an outcry from the public that it was completely over the top? A woman went into a store and as she passed the kitchen appliance section, she hesitated, then she put one item after another in her cart until it was full. She essentially had spent her entire Christmas budget on herself. Was it too ludicrous for the public to believe? I don’t know, but it was pulled after a few days.

I could give you another example but I know you get the drift. The geniuses on Madison Avenue want us to be completely egocentric in our giving. To say their approach to Christmas is crass is an understatement. There’s not much we can do except contact the company who bought the ad and express our displeasure at the sentiment. 

I for one will reject these not so subtle messages to become egocentric in my giving and I have one word for Madison Avenue this Christmas…REALLY?

BrokenHearted

saint-valentines-day-2059930_640Image by Mari Ana. Courtesy of Pixabay.

It’s the Season of Lights and most people are excited about the holidays. They are running around buying presents, planning parties and they have a feeling of good cheer about them. But what if that isn’t you? What if you are experiencing a broken heart this season? Maybe you are experiencing grief because of loss. It may be the loss of a loved one, a job, your health, a house, or a dream that had been dear to you for many years. 

I have been there a few times. Personal grief and loss has left me experiencing a broken heart at this time of year. While everyone else was enjoying the bright lights, I was living in the shadows. Where could I turn to find someone who could help put the pieces of my heart back together again?

What I needed was a physician, a specialist, one who could heal my heart and bring me hope. In my darkness, I found one who was able to do just that. His name is Jesus, He is the Great Physician and He specializes in healing broken hearts. Take in the words He spoke about Himself more than two thousand years ago: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; HE HAS SENT ME TO HEAL THE BROKENHEARTED, to proclaim liberty to the captives, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18-19.

Unlike other physicians, there is no copay, deductible or waiting time. You can call on Him at any moment and He will be there to help you. He was certainly able to help me. Yes, my heart has scars and you can see where He has mended my heart. It may not look like others who may have a perfectly whole heart, but my heart is healed now and I am able to function. I can experience joy again and look forward to what life has to offer.

Call out to Him. I promise He will be there to help you.

Course Correction

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Several days ago, a friend read something I had written. It was an allegory, and I thought what I had written was very clear. Funny thing was, she didn’t get it at all. In fact, she thought that what I had written had a completely different meaning than what I had intended. We visited, and after I assured her I wasn’t going to the dark side, she suggested that I insert the meaning of the allegory in the story.  I thought about what she had said, shared it with my husband and of course, she was right. I did need to explain what I was writing about. If someone I know and trust did not get it, how could I be assured that everyone reading it would also get it? I needed to make a course correction on that particular piece of work.

Sometimes, we can be a click off. You know, not a lot…just a little. It doesn’t seem like much but if not corrected, we can be way off further on down the line. Did you know that if you are only one degree off on your trajectory from earth to the moon, that by the time you should have reached the moon, you would be 4,169 miles off? You wouldn’t miss your expected destination by a little, you would miss it by a lot. 

It’s hard to listen to correction from someone, but many times, we need that objective voice to speak into our lives. I really appreciate my friend’s opinion on the piece, that’s for sure. What if 4,169 people read it and didn’t get it? I would be so sad that I had given people the wrong idea. 

What about you? Has someone spoken into your life and you are not listening? Are you balking at the thought of making a course correction? It’s not easy to consider another opinion on your work or the direction of your life, but we must do it if we want to stay on our expected trajectory. After all, we don’t want to miss what we are aiming for!

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Proverbs 27:6

Collateral Damage

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When our defense department is planning an operation, many areas are evaluated. Among them are cost, number of assets needed, and last but not least, collateral damage. When we hear the words collateral damage spoken by the defense or intelligence communities, we know it is government-speak for casualties. Defense operations are not the only place where collateral damage happens.

This past week, I have heard several people talking about the approaching  holidays. When they share their dread and anxiety about inviting their relatives, they talk about what might happen if certain people come to their gatherings. Some of their relatives are known for sharing gossip, unforgiveness i.e. reminding them of past mistakes, and dropping emotional bombs when the extended family is present. When our relatives engage in this kind of behavior, they create a lot of collateral damage.  Rather than let this kind of behavior continue indefinitely, it might be worthwhile to spend time in prayer and contemplation in order to come up with ways to deal with our problem relatives in a more effective fashion. 

Are there practical ways we can deal with this kind of destructive behavior or do we even need to? First, we must ask ourselves if we need to invite them to the gathering at all? Perhaps if they were uninvited for a few holidays, they might begin to question themselves. When they call and ask why they were not invited, we can politely tell them we are downsizing our celebrations for the time being. If you think it is wise, you could share the reason they were not invited. 

Second, if they must be invited for the sake of family unity, how can we be proactive and prepare for their arrival? We can evaluate what seems to trigger their outbursts and be prepared to de-escalate and redirect the conversation when a hot topic is introduced. We can also evaluate the level of alcohol consumption that will be allowed. It might be wise to have an alcohol-free gathering if alcohol seems to loosen tongues that otherwise might be kept in check.

Third, we need to make sure we are not part of the problem. Do we have firm boundaries set up in our homes so that those invited know they are NOT allowed to criticize others when they are there? Can we stand up to the family bullies and let them know their behavior will not be tolerated? When we are setting up firm boundaries for the first time, it is only fair to let the offending parties know the rules several days in advance so that they can prepare themselves to be on their best behavior. If they then cross the lines, we can remind them of the “new rules” for family gatherings. 

The holidays can be brutal for some, depending on their relatives. We do not have to be victims and at the mercy of our relatives if they are toxic for us and our family.  Remember, our homes are not war zones and they do not have the right to cause collateral damage when they come to visit!