Makes Me Smile – on Wednesday! ;)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


So true, yes?

But of all of the things that make me smile right now, this video from several years ago tops my list. (If you can’t see it, click here.) I know you’ll smile, too! :-)

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Christmas time is a bag full of mixed emotions

 

Christmas time & dealing with its bag full of emotions.  SmellingCoffee.com

Christmas time is a bag full of mixed emotions.

Enjoyment – of extra gatherings of family & friends

Emotional Stress – caused by extra gatherings of family & friends

Exhaustion – due to extra gatherings of family & friends

Expectations – of problems solved & loves reunited (the way it always happens in Christmas movies)

Disappointment – because not all problems are solved & loves are united (the way it always happens in Christmas movies)

Fond Memories – of loved ones & past Christmases

Painful Memories – of loved ones & past Christmases

Joy – in planning & gifting to others

Financial Stress – involved in planning & gifting to others

Mental Stress – involved in planning & gifting to others

Selfishness – involved in planning & gifting to others

Pleasure – of planning, cooking, decorating, & serving during this season

Pressure – to plan, cook, decorate, & serve this season

Contentment – in being with the ones we love

Intense Sorrow – in missing the ones we love

Stress of Travel – to be with the ones we love

Guilt – if everything we do or feel during this season isn’t “Holly Jolly”

More Guilt – if what we are doing to “celebrate Jesus’ birthday” is actually pulling us away from Jesus instead of toward Him

If I’m being honest, these are just a few of the emotions that swirl around my head and heart on a regular basis during Christmas time – “The Most Wonderful Time of Year.” In a mere few seconds I can feel the exact opposite way about the very same thing! Can you?

And when these polar emotions battle it out, if the negative one wins, then I tend to feel ashamed in myself for letting it be that way.

Why can’t Christmas time be like it is portrayed in the books, songs, movies, and commercials?

Why do we pressure ourselves (or allow others to pressure us) to conform to this Americanized version of Christmas?
Before we begin to heap more guilt upon guilt, consider this:

The first Christmas was full of emotions, too.

Enjoyment – of Mary & Joseph being together on a journey

Emotional Stress – caused by going on a journey with Mary in such a delicate condition

Exhaustion – due to traveling in such a delicate condition

Expectations – of what it would be like once they arrived in Jerusalem

Disappointment – because nothing turned out as they had expected

Fond Memories – of past family gatherings

Painful Memories – of missing home and loved ones

Joy – in being recognized and counted as a family unit in the census

Financial Stress – involved in providing for their time in Jerusalem

Mental Stress – involved in figuring out the details of this journey

Selfishness – involved in longing for comfort and home

Pleasure – of remembering the words the Angels spoke unto them

Pressure – encased in the words the Angels spoke unto them

Contentment – in being in this together

Sorrow – in Mary in being far away from familiar help at this time

Guilt – in Joseph not being able to provide better conditions for Mary and the Baby

I imagine that at one point or another, emotions similar to these whirled around the heads and hearts of Mary and Joseph during this Blessed time that we call Christmas.

Like us, they most likely battled loneliness, rejection, uncertainty, grief, and guilt right alongside their joy and pleasure and contentment. But who wants to talk about these negative feelings during Christmas time?

I’ll tell you Who: The very One who was born to these humble parents – Jesus Christ.

Jesus knows and fully understands the emotions that push and pull us during this time of year. He sees what commercialism has done to His Holy Day, and stands ready to help us navigate each and every feeling. But in the same way that gifts with our names on them aren’t really ours until we accept them, Jesus’ offer to lead us through the days to come won’t affect us unless we accept it.

“Nothing is too difficult for God” Jeremiah 32:17 tells us. This passage goes on to promise that “The great, the Mighty God, the Lord of Hosts is His name – Great [is He] in counsel and mighty in deeds” (vs 18-19).

Over and over in His Word, God calls us to come to Him for help.  I looked up some synonyms of the word “help” and found this list of 85 along with brief definitions. As you read a few of the synonyms below, slowly soak in these dimensions of “help” and think about them in light of Jesus:

Accommodate , Advance, Advise, Aid, Alleviate, Assist, Attend, Back, Bail out, Be of use, Befriend, Benefit, Bolster, Boost, Buck up, Care for, Champion, Cheer, Comfort, Counsel, Deliver, Ease, Embolden, Encourage, Favor, Go to bat for, Guide, Hearten, Intercede, Launch, Lend a hand, Mentor, Minister to, Nurture, Open doors, Prop up, Reinforce, Relieve, Remedy, Rescue, Restore, Revive, Root for, Save, Stick up for, Stimulate, Support, Sustain, Take under one’s wing, Treat, Uphold, Work for…

Dear friend, do you need help in navigating a bevy of conflicting emotions during this holiday season? If so, all you have to do is to ask. The Lord understands the thoughts and intents of our hearts (Heb. 4:12-13).  He knows that we are flesh (Psalm 78:39) and will lead us as a Gentle Shepherd through the highs and lows of life on this earth (Psalm 23).

And weary one, Jesus understands drained and exhausted too, and invites us to come to Him and let Him carry our loads (Matthew 11:28-30).

After all, that’s really what Christmas is about. The celebration of Jesus, God Himself in the form of the Promised Savior and Deliverer, coming to earth, taking on a body of flesh, trading with us our sin and sorrows, and paying our very penalty of death so that we can fully live, both now and forever! (John 10:10)

From this Gift of Jesus stems the traditions that we have come to know as Christmas. When we let the activities and expectations be wrapped by the Help of Our Savior, we will discover a deep abiding joy… because that’s the Supernatural result of focusing our heads and hearts on Jesus.

Are your emotions getting the best of you during this holiday season?

If so, may I share an idea that worked for me when I began to feel overwhelmed?

Honestly list the emotions you are experiencing, the good and bad, happy and sad – and why you think you are feeling these ways. Then give the whole list to Jesus. Ask Him to show you His perspective on your current circumstances. He will begin to open your eyes to see His presence, gifts and blessings in each one. Then write down what the Lord shows you, and ask for His Strength to help you praise Him in the midst of it all.

This isn’t a guarantee that you will be happy, but a promise that the Joy of the Lord can override every other emotion contending for central focus.

Christmas time sure is a bag full of mixed emotions. But the Gift offered to us through Jesus is a gazillion bags overflowing with JOY. It would be the wisest choice of a lifetime to receive it, unwrap it, and embrace the Savior to His fullest. Oh how I pray that’s exactly what you and I will do as we embrace Jesus this Christmas season!

With love,

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An “Elf” Who Loves Jesus {ideas}

How many of you are playing “Elf on the Shelf?”  IF this is something you are doing in your home or classroom, even this funny little fella can take part in pointing hearts toward Jesus.   :-)

Here are a few ideas using a Jesus-honoring Elf on the Shelf:

 

This blogger (Crayon Marks and Tiger Stripes) has put together a whole 25 day idea list for an Elf who loves Jesus.  Her post went viral last year, so this year we can follow #elfontheshelfjesusstyle on pinterestfacebook and twitter to see daily pictures of their elf’s activities and share yours as well!!!

Disclaimer: I don’t know this blogger, but I do like what I’ve seen so far.  You can check out her blog here, and watch what her elf does each day to spread the love of Jesus.

 

Other ideas scored from Pinterest:

*You could also attach the Christmas Alphabet Poem, one stanza a day to the Elf as he performs his silly antics.

The Elf teaching that all gifts come from Jesus.

This Pinner said: “Christian elf on the shelf ideas, teaching Kennedi proverbs 31:30, helping her to understand her beauty is not measured by what she sees in the mirror but instead true beauty comes from a love for The Lord”

The Elf reading the Christmas Story from Luke 2.

More ideas and links can be found on my Pinterest board, The Elf Who Loves Jesus.  I’m still collecting, and looking forward trying these out one of these days when a little one is in our home. ;)

Whether you play “Seek and Find Jesus” or “The Elf who loves Jesus,” or whatever else that you do this holiday season, if you ask the Lord to help you glorify Him in it, every festivity can point hearts toward the True meaning of Christmas.

“And whatever you do [no matter what it is] in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in [dependence upon] His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him.”  Colossians 3:17

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