I believe in imagination, dreaming, and love at first sight. I love cheesy Hallmark movies– movies–eveneven if there is fake snow. But none of that really involves a miracle.
When I was younger, I believed that miracles were something that rarely happened. I thought that they occurred in Bible times–but rarely any more. The older that I get, I realize that sometimes miracles are all around us, but we don’t see them because we don’t realize how truly rotten our sin nature is.
What am I trying to say?
Left to our own selfish desires–we wouldn’t show God’s love; we wouldn’t look past our own goals to put someone else first;we wouldn’t be kind or take the time to give and care for others; we wouldn’t forgive.
He reached into this desperately wicked heart of mine and helped me to see others and sometimes helps me to forgive. I admit. I’m worse at it than I used to be…and that saddens me. I really don’t want to become cynical or stop believing that there is hope for this world. Sometimes the news and facebook posts, etc., just steal that hope.
Today though? I believe in miracles. Let’s continue to pray that God puts a hedge of protection around His children so that the dark doesn’t snuff out the light. Let us all remain faithful.
Take a moment to watch the lesson that “Miracle” teaches.
Thank you, Rebecca Leland for sharing the stage with me!
It would make my day if you would take the time to follow us and share!
Until next time–this is just me talking to you from the wings!
If you have been following my blog for awhile you know that I am somewhat of a planner. I also do a project called December Daily. This is my fifth year. For those of you who are unfamiliar, December Daily is the idea that you document a story, or activity from December 1-December 25. For some of us, we take the title more seriously and actually do document every day which means we end on December 31st. Others actually start Thanksgiving day and continue through New Year’s Day. There are really no rules. I tend to be a copier, so I follow most of what Ali Edwards (the creator of December Daily) does in her blog, using her materials. However, she stops on December 25 so I am forced to be creative on my own. I will say, I’ve learned a lot about many different artsy techniques and my last album looked significantly better than my first one.
Why do I do this? I love stories. I want to leave a record of photos and recorded words that my family might look at and treasure long after I’m gone. It’s a creative outlet, but it is far more than that.
Anyway, I digress.
I didn’t decorate my house this year because I was going to be away for part of December. Decorating is usually one of the stories I tell. About the time I was searching for a story to tell in the place of one of Ali’s–we received a gift of a beautiful Christmas wreath. We hung it on the front door and I started to wonder how I was ever going to make a full spread out of one picture. Then, I started to wonder why people hang them in the first place…so I googled it and wow! I was fascinated.
Did you ever wonder why we hang Christmas Wreaths on our front door?
They are beautiful and have so many styles.
It is a tradition.
Everyone does it.
The word wreath is said to come from the old English word “writhen” meaning to twist, as in a circle or wheel. Wreaths have been around since the 16th Century and the Romans displayed them as a symbol of victory. It’s circular shape represents eternity, for it has no beginning and no end.
At this point, I was thinking, okay nothing really new here….
We all know that wreaths are mainly made out of evergreens. They last longer, but more than that, evergreen represents life and nature. It reminds us that spring will come soon. (THANKFULLY) It is also said to represent “the wheel of the year.” Cold will pass away.
Now here comes the facts I should have known, but didn’t.
Wreaths were adopted by the Christian faith and are used to observe Advent. Since a wreath has no beginning or end, it symbolizes God’s eternity and mercy, particularly during the Christmas season. How is it that I NEVER thought about a wreath like that before? Also it is said that when made of evergreen it symbolizes everlasting life and God’s everlasting love.
Roberta Hershenson wrote in The New York TImes that for some Christians the wreath represents the thorns worn by Christ on the cross, the berries being His blood. When Christians hang a wreath on their house, it is an invitation for Christ to come into their home. In short, it is a declaration that the home owner believes in Christ.
I think the rest of the world would have to know what the wreath meant for it to be a declaration to everyone, but I love the symbolism. In a holiday that has a tendency to become secular and commercial it is nice to focus on what it truely means.
For me, if I can only have one decoration this year, I’m glad it was a wreath.
What does a wreath mean to you?
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Charity took another look around the empty room. It was void of decorations and furniture except for the cherished radio/CD player and one table and chair. She walked over and clicked the radio on. The static was loud, but temporary as she inserted a CD into the well-loved player.
The sounds of Bing Crosby crooning, “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas” immediately filled the air.
Charity walked over to the window and peered at the pavement below. “Nothing white on the ground here.” She smiled. That was okay with her. She wasn’t fond of snow or cold and neither was her mother.
This was going to be her first Christmas without her mother. It filled her with an emotion that she wasn’t ready for. It had been months. Why did she still wake up every morning wishing she could call her mom? Mom always made everything all right.
She walked back over to the last box. Once she went through this box she would clean the apartment for the last time and turn the keys over to the manager.
“Over. I just don’t want it to be over.”
Bing stopped singing and Perry Como began singing,”I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” She couldn’t stop the tears that began to slide down her cheeks. Home? Where exactly was home?
She lifted the lid on the box. What was this? Letters. All unopened. She grabbed a few of them and thumbed through them. Some were addressed to her, some to her Grandmother, some to Dad and a few to God.
She decided to take the top one and open it. It was addressed to “Unknown”.
As she read aloud, the music vanished and she could picture her mom in earlier Christmas’. She was sitting by the Christmas tree at Grandmother’s house. Her sister’s were young and beautiful as they all laughed and told stories together. Dad was close by looking lovingly at her.
She shook away the memory and opened the letter.
“To whom it may concern. I’m not sure how long I will live or who will find these letters. Please don’t share them with anyone. You may read them and think what you will, but I never gave them to the people I wrote them to for a reason and I’d ask that you keep them to yourself as well. You may ask why I wrote them instead of talking it out? Writing is permanant. When you talk, sometimes you forget exactly what was said. I want to always remember. Now you say, but the letters are sealed! Yes, they are. That is a mystery you must discover for yourself, if you choose to. Happy Reading”
Charity stood. Why were the letters only written to the four of them? Her mother must have known that Charity would be the one to find the letters, why didn’t she just leave a note to her?
Charity was instantly filled with fear and excitement and worry all combined into one new emotion.
She closed her eyes, reached into the box and randomly pulled out a letter.
It was dated December, 1956.
“The year I was born!” The letter wasn’t addressed to her, or her mom or her dad. It was addressed to God.
I am a mother. Finally! All I can think of this Christmas is Mary. The girl you chose to be the mother of your son. I picture her holding Jesus. What must she have been thinking? ‘He’s perfect! How can this little one be a Savior to the world? How can I be the earthly mother to someone who knows all and sees all?’ I have such doubts about my ability to be a mother. Will Charity and I be close? Will my own mother be satisfied in what she sees in me? So, I’m writing you my deepest and darkest fears. I know that you know what is in my heart, but I feel that somehow if I write it here then I can leave it here. Safe with you. Help me to be more like Mary-more like Jesus.”
In an instant Charity knew that this box was a special gift. Just like Mary had pondered things in her heart-Charity’s mom had as well. She reached into the box again. “Thank you, God, for this special gift from the past that is for the future. Thank you, also, for Jesus and Mary and…my mom.”
She looked over at the box. What other secrets did it hold?
**Before you ask, this is NOT a TRUE story. I’m not sure why God puts stories on my heart, but I really enjoyed where this one took me. Let me know if you want to hear more about Charity!
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Over the past several years I have had many friends tell me that they were doing an Advent Bible Study. Sometimes it was a self-guided study that they were tackling on their own. At other times they were reading an additional book or studying with a Bible study group. The point is that it has become quite “popular”.
I don’t usually do the trendy thing. I was years behind joining facebook and instagram and while I have a TikTok, but I really don’t have the foggiest idea what to do with it. I feel like I spend too much of my day seeing what is going on with my friends by checking out those platforms. So, in truth, I resisted the advent study.
Then, 2021 happened. I haven’t lost my faith, but I did lose my hope. I told my friends that I felt like Moses and that the only reason I was surviving was because they were holding up my arms like Aaron held up Moses’ in the wilderness. Thank you, friends.
Then, I saw on facebook that one of the writer’s that I follow was having an advent study. I joined the group and immediately began looking forward to the study.
Listen to what I just said! I began looking forward to it! Honestly, I haven’t looked forward to anything all year.
So, I went a step further. I started my own group as well! We are following the book, “Embracing Advent: Rediscovering Christmas in the Chaos.” I wasn’t sure how it would be received, but I knew I wanted to share this experience with some of my friends–many of them who prayed me through the wilderness.
We began our study on December 1st and we plan to read one chaper of Luke a day until we conclude on December 25 with Luke 25. We will also read one chapter of Jen Ludwig’s book.
I’m on day three and am so glad I did this.
Advent means “coming.” When we do an advent study we are preparing for the coming of this season. It’s more than reading one chapter of Luke a day. It’s spending time reading, praying and waiting.
Waiting. Do we all feel like we have done enough of that for the last two years? I’m pretty sure the children of Israel waited lots more than that for the birth of Christ. We have it so easy these days and waiting isn’t something that we are good at.
Did you know that the word “hope” in the BIble is sometimes translated “to wait for“? I never thought about the fact that waiting and hoping were so connected. I guess I like things to be taken care of or answered now…right now.
Jen Ludwig says in her book, “In order to actively find hope, hold on to hope, cling to hope and be anchored in hope: we need to be very deliberate in our patient waiting.” Did someone say patient???? UGH.
But listen to this promise:
“But those who HOPE in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”
As we begin this Advent season, will you wait quietly for what the Lord is teaching?
I’m going to try.
What are you hoping for? I’d love to hear from you!
As Thanksgiving approaches I have been thinking about traditions and how each family is sometimes so alike and sometimes so very different. I decided to google the word tradition and see what the results were.
1) “The definition of a tradition is a custom or belief that is passed down through the generations or that is done time after time or year after year.”
An example of a tradition is eating turkey on Thanksgiving or putting up a tree on Christmas.
2) “The passing down of elements of a culture from generation to generation, especially by oral communication.”
3) “A part of culture that is passed from person to person or generation to generation, possibly differing in detail from family to family, such as the way to celebrate holidays.”
4) “A long-established custom or practice having the effect of precedent or unwritten law.”
I find it interesting that each idea has several things in common: it includes the passing of time
and it is something that happens again and again. Cultures may be different, beliefs may be different and families certainly are different, but we are alike in this way– traditions are important to us.
Why do we have traditions? Why do we value them?
We follow them year after year because they mean something to us and deep down I think we hope that our children will continue to honor some of the same traditions. Thus, keeping those traditions alive.
Traditions give a sense of belonging. You have special things that your family does and children notice that. It provides them with a routine that they can depend on. I remember things I did with my parents even more than certain presents I received. It is important to me that my children know why I do what I do. Traditions bind us together.
Traditions tell the story of your family. In fact, in some way it gives your family an identity. It tells your children that they a part of something. It is a way to understand the past and –as things constantly change around us–it also gives us something that is strong and secure to hold on to for the future.
Traditions also teach. They teach children values as you celebrate what means something to you. As your family honors religious traditions, you teach faith. When you spend time with a nightly bedtime story you teach the value of reading and creativity.
Following traditions also gives the family something to look forward to together!
The Overshadowed Christmas play this year is “The Christmas Schooner.” It is a delightful story of a family that comes from a German heritage. (Did you know that the first Christmas trees came from Germany?) The story allows us to see the tradition of decorating a Christmas tree and continues to repeat, “Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without a tree!” The mother of the family, Alma, is Swiss and just doesn’t understand this tradition or why her husband would risk his life to bring Christmas trees to Germans who live across Lake Michigan in Chicago. He answers her questions with, “I do, because I have so much.” Thus honoring the tradition of giving and blessing others at this time of year.
It makes me wonder, how far would you go to keep a tradition alive? What would you risk? Should we hold that close to them that we would even do something dangerous? This family did. And believe me, more people than just Germans learned to love the tradition of Christmas trees that once was held only by Germans.
By the way, some people have a tradition of seeing a Christmas show every year. This one would be an amazing one to see. We open this Friday and run until December 18th. Get tickets at www.overshadowed.org
What traditions does your family celebrate? I’d love to hear about them! Please comment, share and follow!
This week Jason Roy, lead singer of Building 429, sent out a video explaining why they wrote their new song, “Breath of God.“
He basically said that Christmas is traditionally a time we look forward to–a time that is usually filled with peace and rest. He went on to say that many of us have been touched with a great sorrow this year–a sorrow so deep that it is difficult to think of Christmas in the same way. He hoped that this song would bring peace and a hope for all of us to cling to.
Well, that truth resonated with me. I went to youtube immediately
I have listened to it several times daily since then. I’m claiming it for a life line this Christmas.
In honesty, I’ve been wondering how December will be. In June, when I got the text that changed my life-my whole world fell apart. I cried in sounds that I didn’t even know I could make. I didn’t know how I could go on, but with the encouragement of my daughter, somehow I got up and put one foot in front of the other. I know the prayers of others worked overtime to help me get to the place I am today. I’m thankful for those of you who prayed–even though you didn’t know what you where praying for. (For all of you now trying to look through past blogs to figure out what happened–I’m afraid I never told. It is too personal. The story is not mine to tell at this point. And yet, it has been what defined me for the past six months.)
And on top of all this, my mother was dying and did eventually pass away.
I knew God was there, but I couldn’t get through the pain to converse with Him.
You know when you are so close to someone that you can actually feel their breath? You have to be right next to them….nothing in between. I heard the words to this song and I knew that was what I was lacking. I NEED to have the Breath of God. I need Him to speak peace to me.
Lights, snow, Christmas trees, presents… it’s not enough. We need hope. We need the Holy Spirit.
The song asks God to speak in power to the spirit of fear. It asks God to remind us that He is here. It goes on to say that the stars in the sky remind us that He is faithful and indeed–it does.
In the Scripture: ειρήνη (eiríni): from the verb “to join”, peace, implies prosperity, one, peace, quietness, rest
Matthew Henry, in his commentary on Phil, describes this peace:
‘The peace of God, the comfortable sense of being reconciled to God, and having a part in his favor, and the hope of the heavenly blessedness, are a greater good than can be fully expressed. This peace will keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus; it will keep us from sinning under troubles, and from sinking under them; keep us calm and with inward satisfaction.”
I love the last part, it will keep us from sinking under our troubles and keep us calm with inward satisfaction.
God is a God of peace but we do not need to think that He is “resting”. The scripture promises us in Psalms 121:4 that he “will neither slumber nor sleep.” He is watching and caring for me and my pain and you and yours.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. “
God is our foundation and rock— the opposite of the chaos of trouble.
How do we get that peace? I think only when our communion with God is so close (we can feel the breath) that it guards against the internal and external threat to that peace.
Thank you, God, for holding me fast. Thank you for your word that doesn’t return void. Thank you for coming to save us. Please speak in power and bring those who have forgotten you to know you fully. Speak peace to my heart. Thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for music. Thank you for musicians who can be used to speak truth.
What do you think of this song? Is there a song you are claiming for this season?
My December has not looked like any December I have ever spent. During most of my adult life December has always been full of shopping, meeting with friends, family times and tons of recitals, plays and church events.
Well, not this year. On those rare occasions that I have been around friends and family there are nagging questions, “Was this a mistake? Did they wash their hands? Where is my mask?” and more.
But. This is Christmas. Christmas isn’t really about shopping and tons of recitals etc. Christmas should be about ONE thing. We should be focused on the birth of Jesus. The very name “Christmas” has CHRIST at the beginning. He comes first.
Is it possible that after years of struggling to keep the main thing the main thing–that this year could actually RESET our way of thinking? Perhaps with the stopping of the hustling and running around we actually can put CHRIST at the very center of all of our activities.
Over and over we ask our friends, “Are you ready for Christmas?”
And maybe a great deal other items are on that list….
This year I added:
1) Find ways to keep Christ the center of Christmas every day.
Just putting that statement on the top of my list changed my awareness. But I added a few others as well.
2) Read a chapter of Luke each day in December. (Doing that leads you through the life of Christ so that you focus on the whole gift of God)
3) I found a calendar for Acts to Keep Christ in Christmas. There weren’t 25 suggestions, but there were several that were interesting. (All focused on giving rather than getting and most in the spirit of Jesus–giving to those in need.)
4) Watch Christmas movies that incorporate the reason of Christmas!
5) Instead of writing a letter to Santa–write a letter to Jesus. Keep them. It will mean so much to read how your relationship and thoughts about Christmas might change year after year.
6) Have a Bethlehem dinner. Tell the story of Mary and Joseph and eat a dinner they might have eaten on Christmas Eve. Perhaps dress up and maybe even eat by candlelight.
7) Study the symbols of Christmas. It is interesting to know why bells, trees, candles are so important at Christmas. Take one a day or one a week and really highlight the reason many of them are part of our celebrations.
8) This year I heard about a new tradition that some friends are adding. They are going to celebrate Christmas Eve-Eve. They will have a traditional meal and then sing Christmas songs together. Sounds like a great way to usher in the real Christmas Eve.
9) Study Advent and prepare your hearts.
Whatever you do –remember that the true gift of Christmas is Christ. Remember, it isn’t about giving or getting the biggest or best present. It isn’t about having the best decorated house or the one with the most lights. It isn’t about getting everything done on your list.
This year let the presence of Jesus reign in your home and heart.
Let Jesus reign. Allow Him to give you the hope of peace that only He can give.
One final note: Growing up I used to love to watch The King Family Christmas Special. To this very day I remember one particular episode that well, was really meaningful. Home is pretty special more this year than others perhaps.