Tag Archives: christmas

Christmas magic

seaworld_cmas_2013 298Often you hear people talking about Christmas it’s the magic of miracles. It’s a reminder of a time long ago when all was right in the world. The Christmas season is often portrayed as a magical time where anything can happen.  So if Christmas’ magic could change lives what would change? What miracle would we want? What are the deepest desires of our hearts?

 

A few of the most common themes of Christmas magic include:

  • Finding a soul mate
  • Healing rift between friends
  • To have an estranged spouse come home
  • Physical and mental healing
  • Financial peace
  • Peace of mind
  • Business success
  • A child in the military to come home for Christmas
  • For our dreams to come true

This list could go on and on as every person would have a different answer. But what is the thread that connects these themes?

cmas 2013 050Everyone has an idea of what life should be like and they believe that this is the one time of the year when prayers are answered, lives are restored, families reconciled and fairy tales comes true. There’s sadness in this season because the magic doesn’t hold up, the season passes and we’re left feeling more broken than before. I know this was true for me for many years. I have watched the Hallmark movies, gazed into the twinkle lights and found my nostalgic past in the beautiful reds and greens. I admit I was one of those who sought Christmases magic in this season. My wish was to find my estranged father of 45 years (read about my Hallmark Christmas).

But how many heartbroken souls are still out there, still waiting. Still watching the movies and hoping that happy ending will be theirs. That they too can have the miracle they’ve been secretly hoping for this Christmas season.

christmas 2013 044There is a magic in the idea of Christmas but it’s not found in the greenery, twinkle lights or holiday movies.  There is a white knight out there that is willing and ready to rescue you and make all your dreams come true. Many celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus. But the season isn’t about a little baby but a grown man who fell to earth so that we may be restored. He came to fill our hearts with the magic of a little child.

The real miracle of the season is the miracle that happens in our hearts, the miracle that only Jesus can do. Christmas is about second chances, Jesus died to give us a second chance. It’s about reconciliation to our true father. It’s about letting go wrongs and love each other as Christ did for us.

This Christmas remember the miracle maker and ask him to make a miracle in your heart and mind by restoring and renewing all of you.

If you could have a Hallmark Christmas what would it be?

 

Next week: Quotes on a peaceful attitude.

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Christmas freedom: Jesus in blessings and loss

Thank you for coming on this little journey into Christmas miracles. At the end of the last post I asked “So did this miraculous Christmas heal my wounded heart? Did these feelings of low self esteem dissipate?” Well first let me tell you a little about the nature of miracles. There is no time frame for a miracle it can happen in an instant or seem to happen in an instant when in fact it comes from an evolution over a period of time like my instantaneous Christmas miracle which was actually more than 45 years in the making. But then there are other miracles that happen so gradually and we don’t really know when the miracle took place we just realize one day it’s happened. It is often like that with issues of the mind and heart. These may take more time because we are holding them back.

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Such is the case with the healing of my wounded heart. About a year ago I was reading my bible, I couldn’t even tell you what verse but I remember thinking “I can’t remember the last time I had a negative thought, the last time I thought I was unworthy, unlovable, second best or mediocre. During the first several months after my journey I was still facing those issues. Then fourteen months of homelessness tended to distract me from any thoughts of myself. My concern became for my daughters and the new life we were welcoming into our lives if not our home as we didn’t have one yet.

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I did eventually overcome the depression and was able to regain the relationship with God which had dried up along with my heart with the end of my journey. I just didn’t know what to do with myself, or who I was after such an exciting adventure. But the fact remains, during those lean months of mind, body and spirit God did a wondrous work in me and healed my wounded heart, my feelings low self worth and set me free – from me.

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Once the words to “Beautiful” by MercyMe touched my heart, as if they were meant for me, now it’s just a beautiful song. I realized I no longer feel that way.

The days will come when you don’t have the strength
When all you hear is you’re not worth anything
Wondering if you ever could be loved
And if they truly saw your heart they’d see too much

You are made so much more than all of this
You are treasured, you are sacred, you are His
You’re beautiful

Jesus came to bring life; he came to reconcile us with the father, to restore us and make us free. I hope you enjoyed my tale of a life restored and the miracles that come through Christmas, that is, the birth of our redeemer.

Joyce Meyer says “turn your mess into your message” and this is why I tell my story because…

No matter how dead, no matter how impossible, no matter how hopeless – with Jesus nothing is too difficult, nothing is impossible and it’s NEVER too late.

Christ came to set prisoners free, free from ourselves, free from all bondage. I have been set free, free indeed. (Luke 4:18, John 8:36)

Week 1 – A haunting of Christmas Past
Week 2 – The Fall: A Haunting of Christmas Loss
Week 3 – Christmas Restored
Week 4 – Christmas Reconciliation

Christmas Reconciliation: A Hallmark Christmas revisited

The last three episodes in my little Christmas story were all a build up to this post, my very own Hallmark Christmas. Yesterday, December 23rd, was the third anniversary of my very own Hallmark Christmas.

The summer of 1964 was the last time I saw my father and all I remember is that he didn’t want me. For the next 46 years I would struggle with feeling worthless, unlovable and second best. Oh, you’d never know it if you met me but every once in a while these demons would rear their ugly heads. This wasn’t a conscience effort but like any internal infection it found a way to seep out. If life didn’t arrange for mediocrity then I would somehow sabotage myself. Deep inside I didn’t feel I was worthy.

In 2001, a friend confronted me about my negative attitude. It hurt and as usual I denied it. But it did serve as a wakeup call to my damaged mind and I would spend the next eight years letting Jesus transform my mind. Dealing with these self defeating emotions allowed me to the adventure of a life time.

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If you recall in part two, after the death of my parents I became obsessed with finding my father and experiencing my own Hallmark Christmas with the reconciliation of my long lost family. Then the summer of 2010 I learned my father had died two years before thus putting an end to any hope of my Hallmark Christmas. By November of that year, a dark cloud covered my spirit and again I became obsessed. His death may have provided closure to my mind but my heart was anything but settled.

In a series of coincidences, or what I refer to as “God sightings”, my numb heart and the prospect of a dismal Christmas, God moved mountains for my restoration and reconciliation.

December 23, 2010 I drove seven hours out of my way to find some closure. I found my father’s grave and I talked to him for some time but in me was a growing need to know more. I set out to find someone who could tell me something about him. My first stop was the cemetery office, after that I intended to visit the mortician and the pastor mentioned in his obituary. But I wouldn’t have to look any further than the office. Through tears I told the woman my story and by the grace of God she took pity on me. She contacted his wife who lived in the next town a conversation that would change my heart and life forever.

Was I really unlovable, unworthy? What I learned was an overwhelming NO. They had looked for me for 40 years until his death. I met my sisters and a brother and talked another brother, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews. Christmas is no longer lonely. I have a family. God took a dead situation and used it to his glory. He brought back a dead childhood dream and brought it back to life and at the perfect time for everyone.

Is this the way I wouldn’t have wanted my Hallmark Christmas? Well, meeting my father would have made it perfect for me but everything is in Jesus’ timing and that is perfect. And I know someday I will meet him again. I received the gift of reconciliation that year just as the birth of our savior is the ultimate gift of reconciliation to the Father.

No matter how dead, no matter how impossible, no matter how hopeless – with Jesus nothing is too difficult, nothing is impossible and it’s NEVER too late.

So did this miraculous Christmas heal my wounded heart? Did these feelings of low self esteem dissipate? Tune in next week…

Check out A Hallmark Movie Christmas to read the original story.

Next week – Christmas Freedom

Part 1 – A Haunting of Christmas Past
Part 2 – The Fall: A Haunting of Christmas Loss
Part 3 – Christmas Restored

Mary Did You Know

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Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.

Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.

The blind will see, the deaf will hear and the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb.

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the great I am.

Take a listen to Mark Lowery’s rendition of Mary Did You Know.

Christmas Restored: Jubilee Journey and Christmas movies

If you recall in part 2­ I wrote about a series of losses leading to the challenge of my Christmas spirit. One thing that ministered to my spirit was Christmas movies. I would dream of having my own “Hallmark” Christmas, of the day I would be reconciled with my family – if they still existed.

SeaWorld Christmas 2012c 187 (3)All of life is a story, the bible is a story and we are all living in our own stories as well as being part of a larger story. Fairy tales, novels, even movies tell stories that reflect the story of life and the connection with the larger story. What we can learn from Christmas movies? What do they teach about the human heart and the heart of God towards his children? Stories that touch our heart often reflect the heart of the father.

We’re going to look at four movies that have held special meaning to me but also reflect the heart of the father. My heart restored, I found hope even while my heart was breaking and I believed in something more.

 

It’s a Wonderful life & A Christmas Carol

“No matter how dead…”

cmas2013-busch.gardens 266You may think it odd that I pair these two movies but there are similarities and both have touched my heart in similar ways: answering the question, do I matter. Both men are blessed with seeing their world in different ways, one a world where he had a positive impact and the other a world he negatively impacted. The angel and the ghosts set out to show the men that their lives do matter and this is what I longed for.

Like Scrooge I needed a spirit adjustment but unlike scrooge I longed for it. More than anything I wanted my heart restored, my spirit restored but I just couldn’t seem to find the way and I just couldn’t find my way out of the fog. I thank God he never gave up on me and protected my throughout all those dark years.

Then there is George Bailey, a man who mattered so much to so many, believed he was better off dead. He is given the magnificent gift of seeing what the world would be like if he never existed. Like George I struggled to hang on to the little hope I had left and that I did matter, somehow.

God wants us to know that we do matter and that it’s never too late. We are put here on this earth for a reason and even if we don’t know what that reason is we must have hope it’s there. George believed his circumstances were dead, Ebenezer believed he couldn’t change and I believed I would never matter. No matter how bad we think our lives are now, no matter how bad we’ve wasted what God has given us, there is still hope. We can still change and we do matter to God, our creator.

 

White Christmas

“No matter how impossible…”

P1080458I always cry at the end of this movie, and not just because of the miracle of snow, but because of the restoration of hope. General Waverly was losing everything, he was alone in his heart and he was becoming hopeless. His situation had gone from difficult to impossible. Bob and Phil cook up a scheme to restore the old man’s heart and faith by giving him a surprise to lighten his heart. When all the generals men come marching into the old, vacant inn, I cry right along with him. The love these men had for their general restores hope and showed him that nothing is impossible

Again we go back to the issue of “mattering”, of being important to someone. I had lost hope that I mattered so movies gave me a brief moment in the dark nights of my living room that I would matter. White Christmas shows me that with love nothing is impossible. Jesus wants us to believe in him, that the story is written and there’s a beauty to be revealed. We just have to have patience and wait for his revelation and restoration of hope.

 

A Smoky Mountain Christmas

“No matter how hopeless…”

P1080666This sweet little movie starring Dolly Parton shows a famous country singer in desperate need of rest, for peace, quiet and time from ridiculous demands on her life. She returns to her family cottage in the mountains to find a group of young orphaned boys and girls who had run away from brutal conditions at the orphanage.

Lorna (Dolly) finds room in her heart for these hopeless children and not only comes to their rescue from the orphanages’ director but takes them into her heart and home as her own children. The character demonstrates true sacrifice by caring for the needs of those who can’t possible return the favor. These little ones had no hope of relief, no hope of a family.

God too sacrificed for the protection, restoration and reconciliation of his little ones. Remember this season, Jesus isn’t just the gift of eternal life, he is the gift of all life, he is life. And while we celebrate the wonder of his birth, the joy and peace of this new beginning let’s not forget where this birth leads; to his ultimate sacrifice for us, to bring us back to him, to gives us as orphans a home in him, a life in him.

 

If parts one and two left you sad, don’t be…

No matter how dead, no matter how impossible, no matter how hopeless – with Jesus nothing is too difficult, nothing is impossible and it’s NEVER too late.

Joy always comes in the morning. Come back Monday, December 23 for Part 4 – A Hallmark Christmas Revisited, an anniversary of reconciliation.

 

Do you have a Christmas story or movie that’s moved or encouraged you? I would love for you to share these experiences.

 

Part 1 – A Haunting of Christmas past

Part 2 – The fall: Spirit of Christmas loss

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Gifts of Love

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Let Everyday Be Christmas

by Norman Wesley Brooks

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Christmas is forever, not for just one day,
for loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away
like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf.
The good you do for others is good you do yourself.

Peace on Earth, good will to men,
kind thoughts and words of cheer,
are things we should use often
and not just once a year.

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Remember too the Christ-child, grew up to be a man;
to hide him in a cradle, is not our dear Lord’s plan.
So keep the Christmas spirit, share it with others far and near, from week to week and month to month, throughout the entire year!

The Fall: A haunting of Christmas loss

Late September to early October ushers in the holiday season in my household with the first chill of the year, changing leaves and pumpkins galore. By October of 1987 I was newly divorced and homeless with 2-year old twin daughters. While life was tough I welcomed the 1987 holiday season with excitement and joy. Little did I know this year would be my first Christmas without my mom and the last Christmas with my dad.

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Not only had I lost my mom but the circumstances of the time made the loss even more unbearable. I had told her two months prior of my divorce. She was understandably upset perhaps even angry or at least that was my perception. I begged her to let us come home but she wouldn’t allow it. We argued, how could she let her daughter and granddaughters live in the horrible conditions we were in. The two weeks before her death I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me, causing me to remember and miss my home, my family. I couldn’t stand the internal pressure anymore so I arranged for a babysitter and planned to walk the mile to the closest phone the next Sunday. The day before, my “former” mother-in-law came to where I was staying and said “I’m so sorry”. She was crying and could barely get the words out. All I could think was “my ex-husband had died and I’d have to feel sorry about it”. She continued, “Your mother died…” and that’s all I remember of her words as I collapsed inside and out.old family_0114

I would never hear my mom’s voice again and the last conversation we had was a horrible argument. And to add coal the fire at her funeral my aunts confronted me rather harshly for not having called her sooner. This led to 15 years of self imposed guilt and the striving to be the perfect mother with perfect holidays.

christmas 2013 076In less than two years I lost my home, my marriage, my mom, my dad, a baby and my entire way of thinking. I was an orphan. I learned to fake the Christmas spirit. I found my longings changed, now I celebrated differently, new traditions. My girls kept me going. Everything I did, every decoration I made, every sweet treat I baked were all unconsciously in memory of my mother. My home was transformed in sight, sound and scent. All decorations, serving ware, plates, cups glasses, pillow, curtains, even shower curtains were stored away and replaced with deep reds, greens and silvers, poinsettias and candy canes. Every room had a Christmas tree. I began to bake cookies, pies, brownies, sweet breads and candy.

While my heart had lost the spirit I believed that somehow, if I put myself into the season fully it would bring some part of my mom back and restore my family. I became obsessed with Christmas movies, especially Hallmark. Those wonderful stories of Christmas miracles and relationships restored. I dreamed of the father I hadn’t seen since childhood coming to my door with my brothers and sisters, a new family, restoration of a childhood loss so deep it would shape my very way of thinking, of how I perceived the world and myself.

A few years later my strained false Christmas spirit became challenged as well as my faith. I learned that Christmas, the birth of Christ, didn’t take place on December 25th, not even in December. Even more, that no one really knows the exact date. Like finding out Santa was a myth the myth of Christmas hit me hard and disillusionment set in. I felt I’d been lied to all my life.

christmas 2013 044One Last blow to my crushed Christmas spirit occurred with the death of my grandmother who passed in 1997. This is a story of loss and heartbreak I won’t get into here (see Paradise Lost). She helped raise me and I was closer to her than anyone else. That summer I sold most of my Christmas decorations. I was truly alone; she was the last of my family. All that was left was my girls. If it weren’t for my girls I would have never celebrated Christmas again. Eventually I did stop decorating after my girls moved to Florida, what was the point.

What I learned during my “Jubilee Journey” is that the spirit of Christmas isn’t about a specific day, or season, or who remains on this earth to walk with us on our journey, it’s about the love of God, giving us his son so our heavenly family can be restored, so we can be reconciled with God, and so we could walk free in Jesus. While I believed I completely lost the spirit there was something deep in my heart calling me. The years after the loss there was a Folgers coffee commercial that featured the song “I’ll be home for Christmas”. There was defiantly something in my heart; I would sob uncontrollably for I knew I would never again be home for Christmas.cmas 2013 050

Then it happened, I had my first Christmas alone. I became very angry and depressed that I wouldn’t be with my girls. There must have been something still in my heart, some bit of hope, the Christmas haunting remained. I may not have wanted a tree but I wanted my girls. I was desperate to be with them. Presents, trees and decorations didn’t matter if I didn’t have them. This was the catalyst that would lead to the “Jubilee Journey.”
Part 1 — A Haunting of Christmas past
Part 3 — Christmas Restored

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Christmas Anniversaries

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A Haunting of Christmas Past

We’ve all had Christmas seasons we loved and hated, some of you may have recently experienced loss or disappointment. Each weekend in December I’m going to bring the theme of the Jubilee Journey to Christmas: Freedom, reconciliation and restoration through Jesus. I will begin this 5-part series with my Christmas experience before the so-called fall, before I experienced deep loss and even fought with rejecting Christmas all together.

Part 1: Christmas before the fall

old family_0011I grew up with where Christmas was a Norman Rockwellian experience. The season was filled with the warmth of Christmas decorations, the smell of sweet treats, Christmas parties, hayrides, caroling and the beauty of the darkest nights lit up with tiny twinkling lights. One of my fondest memories was baking Christmas cookies with my mom. My mom was disabled, ill with a type muscular dystrophy. It was quite an effort for my mom to sit in the kitchen and cook with me but she did it anyway. The sweet smells and sweet memories of mom will never leave me.

SeaWorld Christmas 2012c 154 (3)Another sweet memory was the sounds of Christmas, those lovely songs we call carols. My school chorus and my youth group went caroling throughout December. We caroled through neighborhoods, we caroled nursing homes and most often we caroled at homes of those who couldn’t get out to enjoy the Christmas programs. My mom always made the list. My mother especially enjoyed the singing. She loved everything about Christmas, but Christmas carols was her favorite. Mom loved Silent Night and We Three Kings. I think they reminded her of her own children; when her little babies slept peacefully. She loved her daughters and there was nothing more important to her in this life than her little girls no matter how “little” they became.

I have many favorite carols but the top of this long list is the Carol of the Bells, with or without words, this song can actually bring me to tears. My daughters sang this in their middle school chorus, and I cried right there in the auditorium. My favorite version of the Carol of the Bells is by Trans Siberian Orchestra. I encourage you to check it out so here’s a link the video.

old family pics_0169There is one thing that still warms my heart and that is Christmas lights. I loved and still love to see tiny lights twinkling, the glistening ornaments and icicles shimmering in the darkness; a reminder of the light Jesus brings to a dark world. I loved being with my family and friends, the parties, ice skating on cranberry bogs and coming home with a red bottom, sweets, hayrides, Christmas programs, gifts of fruitcake (I actually do love it) and divinity from my grandmother a thousand miles away in Georgia. She made the best sweets.

seaworld_cmas_2013 299However, the end of the Christmas season was always a letdown as it marked the end of the giving spirit, the end of the lights bringing light to the dark world. We would have to wait another year for the spirit to shine on us again. Many years later, the spirit of Christmas would come to an end and I would find myself challenged to continue into a future without a spirit of Christmas. I have been haunted by the joy of my childhood Christmases ever since.

But…then there was Jesus.

No matter how dead, no matter how impossible, no matter how hopeless – with Jesus nothing is too difficult, nothing is impossible and it’s NEVER too late.

Part 2: The fall, Spirit of Christmas loss
Part 3: Christmas Restored

Amazing Peace

P1130974Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem (excerpt)
By Maya Angelou
from Celebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer

But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.

We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.

Peace. Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.

It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.

On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.

At this Holy instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues at the coming of hope.
All the earth’s tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of Peace.

We, Angels and Mortal’s, Believers and Non-Believers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.

Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.