A Cancel Culture Christmas

Is it just me or does Christmas seem to be just a little more, I dunno…, Christmassy this year? I seem to be humming a little more than usual. I feel a growing anticipation the last few days. Lights seem to be twinkling just a little brighter. I’m not sure why.

This year has been nothing short of disappointing all. year. long. It’s easy to get get bogged down by the disappointment and negativity. I’ve lost track of how many events I cancelled, shifted or redesigned. I’ll admit, I had a few weeks where discouragement got the better part of me. And, if I’m being honest, I’m a little gun-shy and not sure I’m ready for what’s around the corner in 2021. There just doesn’t seem to be much promise, does there?

So, maybe that’s why I feel a little like I’m 6 years old again. I haven’t felt like that about Christmas in a very long time. This year has stripped me down to my bare minimum when it comes to expectations. I’ve learned l can live without fancy graduation ceremonies, large celebrations and all the busyness that entangles the race marked out for me. We’ve all given up a lot this year, but the one thing that remained constant the entire 365 days was Christ.  Christmas is something we can count on. Christ is something we can count on.

Our lives have been interrupted in countless ways this year. And I think of Mary and how much her life changed the moment an angel told her she’d give birth to the Son of God. She didn’t complain, fret or try to change the outcome. She embraced the interruption with humility and trusted God with her circumstances, even though it would cost her so much. I haven’t lived that way this year. Have you?

I’ve been thinking a lot about how our Savior chose to come into our lives, and it wasn’t with a large party, grand gesture or elaborate parade. The King of the World chose simple, modest. The very fact that He loves us enough to leave Heaven to meet us in our filth is cause for embellished attire and fancy catering. And yet, He’s uncomplicated and mild. He’d not asking for celebration and merriment. He’s asking for adoration and love. And I can do that! I don’t have to cancel that!

So, this childlike anticipation I’m feeling must come from a place where all my crusty outer layers have been peeled off revealing a renewed tenderness, and a rejoicing gratefulness for the very basic parts of the Gospel.

God is Love. He loved so much that it overflowed from the outskirts of Heaven and rained down to Earth in the form of an innocent child. A perfect child. A sacrifice to redeem me if I choose to believe it. And because of a baby, I will live forever in gladness.

Nothing can cancel that.

 

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

 

 

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Cold Prayers

I’ve had a couple people check in on me, and in actuality I was not ok. I scattered my family in a few different directions last night with my frustrations. I wouldn’t have wanted to be around me either. I try every year, but it never fails. As soon as the temperature drops, my fight or flight response is to fight. I mean, since I can’t get on a flight to Key West.

Here in North Alabama the temperature dropped with very little leeway. I had been out hiking without a jacket just 2 days before with my family. I spent the long Thanksgiving weekend so very thankful for my family, friends, church, job and the list goes on. There was no good reason for me to be so prickly.

Did I mention that it was only 35 degrees all day? With snow showers? Oh, and the heater broke in my car. The heater. In my car. Broke.

I need to pause right here and try to explain to you how being cold for me isn’t just an inconvenience. It makes me angry to be cold. Angry, tense and irritable. I just can’t relax at all.

My poor family.

So, to have my heater broken in my car on the very first day of what looks like could be a brutal #2020ish Winter…I was not in a good place. I had a mini melt-down. No pun intended. The heater wasn’t my only issue. Miscommunication with my husband, Cyber Monday customer service mix-ups, forgetting dance class, closing the school system in the middle of the day throwing me off my Monday game, not-so-great news from my doctor. And my heater.

Dinner was late, because let’s be real here. Dinner is always late when days go awry. It’s a bad day code I’m sure. Dinner must be late when you’re tired and hangry.

Anyway. I groveled for forgiveness from my very merciful and understanding family. I don’t deserve them. They know me and my weaknesses and love me in spite of them. That’s true love, y’all.

So, I went to bed, said my prayers and tried to sleep. And in case you are just tuning in with me you need to know I struggle with that too. Sleeping. But it was gracious to me also.

Until about 3:30am.

I’m gonna say that it was stomach pain that woke me up, because it was. But since I’m a believer I’m gonna know it was how God chose to get me up this morning. Because I was fine, except that I couldn’t go back to sleep. And you know that Christmas song, “Mary Did You Know?”. Well, it was stuck on a loop inside my head. Honestly, I’ve not ever really been a fan of it because, yes! She knew! Good grief, an angel came to tell her directly that she would be the mother of the Son of God. That’s kinda the whole story line. But I decided that if I couldn’t get the song out of my head that maybe God was trying to tell me something. So, I crept out of bed, scooted my baby dog out of my chair and snuggled in to read Luke and the story of Jesus’ birth.

I am always struck by Mary’s faith in the story. She doesn’t waiver at all. She asks “How can this happen, since I am a virgin?” But she doesn’t doubt. There’s a difference between curiosity and doubt. Mary just says, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be so.” And then she goes off to fulfill God’s eternal salvation plan. What remarkable faith!

Stay with me here because I promise this gets pretty cool.

There I am. It’s dark and like 5:00am. And I just want faith like that. I mean this year has been nothing short of ridiculous. And I am pretty sure that if an angel came to me today I would question the validity and maybe look for hidden fake-news cameras. We haven’t been able to rely on very much this year at all. It seems like every time I make plans they change. People are sick and dying. People are losing their jobs and livelihoods. No one trusts anyone else. It’s not hard to find conspiracy around every corner. We question everything we are told. And, did I mention it’s cold outside and my heater broke? I felt like I just needed a life line.

“So, Lord could you at least just fix my heater? I’m not asking much, but I am asking in faith that you will fix it.” It didn’t seem like a big request considering all the other issues. Surely this one would be easier to resolve than a global pandemic.

I went back to bed and failed to sleep until my alarm went off at 6:30. Sunlight revealed that my car had been covered in frost overnight. My phone told me it was 26*. So, I got moving knowing I would need extra time to scrape my windshield since my defrost function went out the window with my broken heater. I got dressed and went out to my car to start it. At least I could warm up the engine.

Y’all. My Father hears the small requests and cares for His children. Even when they have been grumpy and have lost faith. I reached in to turn the key in the ignition and “Whoosh!” My heater sprang to life as if it had never died!!

AND.

AND.

AND!

The lyrics poured out of my favorite station that I had left on the radio, “That’s what faith can do…” (Kutless) How amazing is that?!

I yelled, “You are SO BEAUTIFUL LORD!!” Then proceeded to jump up and down in my driveway like a toddler at Christmas!!

Because He is so beautiful and He is so faithful. He is the provider of every good thing and He delights in delighting us. What other God has the best timing and can answer prayers with so much precision and detail?

It may not have been a message from an angel to tell me immaculate news, but I know without any doubt it was a message from Jesus that He is still there, listening to every prayer. Every little prayer in faith. Disappointments, frustrations, illness, despair, cyber attacks; He’s got all of it. He doesn’t always answer tangibly, but He always answers.

 

How have you experienced God’s answered prayers? Let me know in the comments.

 

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