Does the Light Live Past Christmas?

Christmas - New Year 2017-2018

“When you wake up every morning, aren’t you just so excited and grateful that Jesus came to die for you?” My friend, Nancy, asked me this question at a Christmas concert a couple weeks ago. She had asked this same question to a group of ladies who had been followers of Jesus for many years and they all sadly replied, “No”. I thought for a minute and replied, “Since our imperfect son went to be with God’s perfect Son, I am very grateful every morning.” But do I always live out that gratitude and excitement throughout my day?

God had already started a joy work in me over Thanksgiving as I stepped into a deeper and more intentional prayer life. However, Nancy’s question reminded me that no matter what is going on around me or if the rest of my peeps aren’t walking in joy, I don’t really have an excuse for not living a second by second life of gratitude and joy, walking with the anticipation of eternal life and an abundant life on earth.

This year I have meditated a lot on the response of the people surrounding Jesus’ birth. The Christmas story is full of wonder in all the characters, but my favorite verses in the Christmas story are of the shepherds. I love reading it in the Message as it captures the humanness of the ragamuffin characters God chose to announce it to first.

Luke 2:15-19 The Message

“As the angel choir withdrew into heaven, the sheepherders talked it over. “Let’s get over to Bethlehem as fast as we can and see for ourselves what God has revealed to us.” They left, running, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. Seeing was believing. They told everyone they met what the angels had said about this child. All who heard the sheepherders were impressed.”

Probably tired from a long day in the fields, they didn’t just mosey on over to find the Messiah, they ran and told everyone, even amazing Mary!

My cousin, Missy, was recently doing a study on this and shared this powerfully  interesting Bible history trivia.

“Bethlehem was a Levite city and the shepherds in the surrounding area were charged with raising the “first born male lambs, perfect and without blemish.” To accomplish this, when certain lambs were born they would put them in a specific cave wrapped in swaddling clothes so as not to thrash about and be hurt. So, when the angels said the baby will be found in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes, they knew exactly where to go to find Him AND they knew the significance of the perfect I AM being born!”

The shepherds knew they would be free from the burden of the law and it would be fulfilled in their Messiah, in their lifetime! I’m sure every day after this, they woke up, ecstatically free knowing their Messiah had come.

I am sitting here in my favorite room in my house to have one last morning with the Lord watching my Christmas tree lights. On the left is a mess on a misplaced chair, the last remaining re-positioning of my office moved to make room for our daughter to return home. Praise God! On the right are the boxes to pack the remaining ornaments away until next year and in the background, the mantel lights are not quite as perfect as they were last week, a kind of frazzled joy still shining.

I was reminded this morning as I stepped into this room that despite the messes in my life the light still dawns every day and when focused on this, the messes in the darkness are minimized. A check in my spirit reminded me of my friend’s question and prompted me to develop a constant habit to recognize this light every day in 2018, without the Christmas tree reminders. Will I let this light live through me past Christmas?

January is typically a time for us to reballance our lives, physically, mentally and spiritually. I will be taking a break from social media. My plans are to go even deeper into this Messianic Joy, getting to know my Messiah more and focus on relationships that aren’t distracted by my phone. And, I will be praying for all you, my friends and family, that the light will dawn brighter in your lives too.

If you would like to send prayer requests via Messenger, or through this blog, I would be sincerely happy to add you to my list this month.

Have a radiant 2018!

In His Embrace,

Carla

 

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Because of Three Drummer Boys

Little Drummer BoySometimes God kisses us in a way that involves so many facets of our life it is hard to describe. I’ve wanted to write about this for three weeks but didn’t know what direction to go. As I’m starting this blog, the two constants I see in this story are that #1 God gives us each other to connect and lift each other up, and #2 while in that state, as we lift others up, we get our eyes off our self and new life is poured into us as we pour out to others, which becomes a circle of love that can only be explained by God.

I’ll start at the beginning…When Taylor died, my new friend and cemetery buddy, Susan, told me about her “Ryan Tree”. They set it up each year and add a new ornament in honor of their son. I loved that idea, so I bought a little “Taylor-Woodsy” tree that stuck out of a cabin and started that tradition for our family.

After four years of buying ornaments, the little tree was looking floppy with the big ornaments I chose, and I wanted to put all Taylor’s childhood ornaments on it, so this year I got a tall skinny tinsel tree from Walmart. This new shiny tree stands in our family room so everyone can see it in the busiest part of our home. Photo ornaments, and all the kids’ baby’s first year ornaments, along with Taylor’s, grace this sweet memory tree and Josie has added a couple of hers along with her candy canes, making it not just a signature of the past, but a reminder of our new life and making new memories to cherish.

In October, I hit a new low emotionally. In four years, two of my four parents and a couple friends had recently died along with our son, then in September, our niece took her life. Even with the strong faith I have, I felt helpless to do anything about my depression. I found it difficult to even pray. Trying to grow into a festive Christmas spirit with my elementary music students as we prepared for our December program, I tried to climb out of the pit I was in.  What happened next was part of the key that turned my heart around as God splashed renewed joy over my heart.

This year, my second graders are singing Little Drummer Boy in our Christmas program. As we started practicing in October, I realized I did not have a Drummer Boy ornament for Taylor’s tree. From the womb, a drummer, he used to walk around our home as a little tike, before he got his drum set, singing the same line over and over, “Rum pa pum pum, Rum pa pump um.”

Being the most logical ornament to find for him, I sat down on Ebay and began looking for our 2017 ornament. Noticing the many Drummer Boy ornaments were from Hallmark and dated, I considered all the years that might be available.

“What year should I pick?…Why not his birth year, 1989!”

Not thinking there would be a 1989 for me, I hit search and there was one! I immediately purchased it and at a very reasonable rate! When it arrived, attached was a sweet note from a woman named Sherry. I sensed from her wording, she shared my faith, so I decided to email her, thank her and tell her why this Little Drummer Boy meant so much to me. Two days later, she replied and that started a circle of prayer and love that has evolved into this blogging.

To start with, Sherry told me her husband is a drummer, making it extra special. She then explained how glad she was that we got the ornament and then briefly shared why she was selling so many items. After her husband’s job loss and the news of their almost-four-year-old grandson being diagnosed with a rare disease, she decided to sell her “new” items in their home to help pay for expenses.

I began to pray for this family and it took my eyes off my losses and gave me purpose to pray for life to be poured into this family. As I prayed for them, my prayer life began to return and I became more intentional about praying for others in my life. Into November, I found life begin to return in my heart and mind. I’ve experienced this before but had forgotten how wonderful and healing it feels to get my hands off my wounds so God can heal them as I reach my heart and hands out to others to help them.

After asking more questions, I found that this family has been through a tornado of events, literally! It started with the Illinois tornado of 2013 (the same year our son died) and progressed from there with many more major disappointments. My heart aches for them yet I sense a strength in my new friend that I know can only come from Jesus.

I’ve prayed and asked the Lord how He wanted me to help them further. While I’ve purchased another item, I decided the most logical way is to ask all my friends to pray for a miracle for them and also suggest you look at Sherry’s E bay site. Maybe there is something you need for a gift this Christmas! She sells new things at great prices and has excellent ratings, that I can attest to. Right now, she has a lot of darling Christmas items, collectibles, including Dickens Village items, and some classy shoes, clothing and accessories, plus she is adding more every week. https://www.ebay.com/sch/garsher/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_ipg=&_from=

The way God works through each of us is amazing. Sherry and her “Drummer Boy” husband sacrificed their special “Drummer Boy” ornament, not knowing how deeply it would bless me as I remembered my “Little Drummer Boy”. I got my eyes off myself and began praying which led to a deeper prayer life, which led to joy returning to my heart and life! I love how God connects us in His tapestry that only He can create!

I challenge you to look beyond your current pain and ask God who he wants you to touch next and expect something sweet!

1 Thessalonians 5:10-11 – The Message

Whether we’re awake with the living or asleep with the dead, we’re alive with him! So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE WOOD HOME!