Category Archives: Christian Holidays

Christmas Memories

Thankfulness at Christmas time

Christmas traditions remind us to be thankful.

In the Old Testament, God commanded that certain festivals and celebrations be held annually as a reminder of what He had done for His people. These celebrations were a vehicle to bring together the entire family, community and nation to celebrate God’s great mercy and to remember to be thankful for all He had done for them.

While God does not instruct us in how to celebrate Christmas, we can use whatever traditions we’ve embraced to help us remember God’s great deliverances in our lives and to be thankful for all our blessings.

Each year when I open my box of Christmas ornaments to decorate the tree, I discover so many memories connected to each ornament. I have ornaments from my wedding shower (a December wedding), ornaments from many of the places I’ve visited in my travels, a few left over from my childhood days, special ornaments marking baby’s 1st, 2nd, 3rd Christmas, and even some homemade ornaments from my daughter that still grace the Christmas tree.

As I place the ornaments on the tree each year, it causes thankfulness to arise in my spirit—thankfulness for all the good years and memories I’ve been blessed to experience.

Childhood ornaments bring back memories of blessing.

Memories remind us to be thankful

Memories of past blessings
inspire a thankful attitude.

Other Christmas traditions can also lead us to thankfulness. If we enjoy writing an annual Christmas letter, we can reflect on and rejoice in all the memories and blessings God has given us this past year.

Participating in Advent activities as a family is another great opportunity to focus on what God has done for us and how He has changed our lives with the greatest Christmas gift of all—Jesus!

I love to bake galette cookies each Christmas. I use an authentic Belgium cookie iron (one that my grandfather owned) and recipe because it reminds me of my grandparents and my heritage.

Whatever Christmas traditions you embrace, use them as opportunities to remember and thank God for all your blessings this past year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanksgiving

It’s that time of year when we give thanks for all of our blessings—both as individuals and as a nation. Our thankfulness usually focuses on our material blessings—our daily provision of food, our jobs and homes, our family and friends and our freedom as a nation. While we should thank God for all of these blessings, how many of us ever give thanks for the trials and difficulties of the past year?

Why should we do this? Author and speaker, John Bevere says in his new book, Killing Kryptonite, that “Adversity locates the strength of our faith.” In other words, life’s difficulties are a kind spiritual thermometer that reveals whether we are trusting in our own ability to get through our trials or whether we are really putting our faith in God.

In the book of James we read: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4 NIV). What James is saying is that we should be thankful for trials and difficulties because they work in us a spiritual endurance and maturity.

If we are honest, most of us could not say we approach trials with “pure joy,” but we can certainly take steps to move in the that direction.

  1. We can thank God for our trials simply out of obedience, even if we don’t feel like it in the moment.
  2. We can stop and remember God’s faithfulness to us in past difficulties when He has brought us through.
  3. When we are tempted to focus only on the circumstances, we can spend time reading stories of God’s deliverances throughout Scripture.
  4. We can write out God’s promises from Scripture that speak to our particular trial and read them over and over, even memorizing them and speaking them out loud.
  5. We can pray that God will fill our hears and minds with peace as we wait for Him to answer. (“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:6-7 NIV).

This Thanksgiving be sure to thank God for allowing the trials and difficulties of the past year to increase your faith ad move you towards spiritual maturity.

 

The Best New Year’s Resolution

 Guaranteed Success!

Happy New Years!

Happy New Year!

As we look forward to a brand new year, there’s no lack of information focusing on what we should do to guarantee success in various areas of our lives. Newspaper articles, TV and social media ads, etc. promise everything from weight loss to financial success, happiness and prosperity if only we purchase their product, follow their advice, etc, etc. etc.

Many people make New Year’s Resolutions, hoping to change their lives for the better in the coming year. However, according to research, while as many as 45 percent of Americans make these resolutions, only 8 percent are successful in achieving their goals. The problem is that success or failure usually rests on self-will and self-discipline which tends not to get us very far.

New Year's Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Survive the Holidays

Focus on Being more thankful

for-pray-waves

More and more our Thanksgiving holiday has been eclipsed by the commercial focus on the upcoming Christmas season. By October, merchants line their shelves with Christmas goods, and TV and newspaper ads remind us that Black Friday and Christmas are just around the corner.

The distractions of the season are ever present, but one way we can focus on what is really important is to increase our “thankfulness.” I’m challenging myself to purposely begin my prayer time each day with thanksgiving for all the blessings God has given me. Continue reading

THE PURPOSE OF GOD’S FIRE

The Lodgepole Pine

The Lodgepole Pine

Many of us have heard the analogy of God’s fire likened to the process of refining gold–removing the dross so that in the end we can be pure gold–reflecting God’s very nature.

But I doubt many of us have heard of the Lodgepole Pine. The cones of this tree have a layer of resin and woody tissue that stick the cone scales together. The seeds are locked in tight and the cones can’t open unless they’re exposed to VERY high temperatures–the type of temperatures that forest fires generate.

These pines LOVE forest fires! (How many of us can say that about the fiery trials we face in our lives?) In fact, they eagerly await the fire! Why? Because that is the only way they can release their seeds to proliferate new trees. In fact, these pines are famous for colonizing post-fire landscapes. Continue reading