Short Thanksgiving, Long Christmas

I will remember the works of the LORD; surely I will remember Your wonders of old. (Psalm 77:11)
 
I had that all-over giddy feeling when I peeked at my calendar and realized – oh, joy – that Thanksgiving comes quite early this year. I’m not anti-Thanksgiving; I strive to be thankful year round and I am always, always, always up for turkey and dressing with family around a table that I did not have to set, but Christmas…well, there’s just nothing like Christmas. It’s twinkly. It’s wondrous. It’s the grand finale to every year, and the season inspires me to love more generously and believe more fervently in the miracles of God. Hmm…now what shall I do with the extra days this year?

Some of my favorite memories are Christmas memories. I remember childhood Christmases by the presents I received. I will just be real and say that I absolutely celebrated Jesus’ birth as a child but still loved the toys. I wore out the Christmas catalog from Sears every year, marking up nearly every page of girl-toys with dreams of what I hoped to receive. At six, my Grandma and Grandpa Osborne who lived miles and miles away sent me my very own xylophone. I had never imagined wanting a xylophone, but running my fingers over the colorful metal bars and listening to their cheerful “tinks” filled me with amazement that my grandparents could ever discover such a wonderful toy just for me. I have literally spent hours of my life sitting beside the Christmas tree as a child, shaking the box that held my present from my Grandma and Grandpa O’Dell. Sure, I knew it was a nightgown every year, but what kind of nightgown? Flowered, flannel, or frilled? Dare I dream for matching socks?

Christmas as a college student meant the simple pleasure of being at home, sleeping in my own bed, and gaining a new appreciation for every tradition my parents had established for our family at Christmas. It was more about family than stuff, and missing family from my dorm room throughout the year made our togetherness the prized treasure of Christmas. I was growing up a bit.

Christmas took a significant turn when I married and began to feather my own nest. Every decoration, every snack, every decision seemed monumental because it was the potential for a new Christmas tradition. As typical newlyweds, our money was tight, but I knew we were going to have a festive season when I gazed at the manger scene that I carefully arranged in our little home and thought, “Wow. This is Christmas.” Much had changed in my life, but the heart of Christmas remained the same because Christmas had always been about Jesus.

I’m a purist; I will not decorate for Christmas until after the fourth Thursday of November. But this year, an early Thanksgiving means a long Christmas. And this year, I will enjoy those extra days by thinking about my Savior. I will contemplate God sending His Son to earth to die for me. I will consider why God sent angels to share the best news in the world with lowly shepherds. I will imagine very wise men in ancient garb kneeling before a young Child to offer Him gifts befitting the King of Kings. I won’t shop more, I won’t decorate more, and I hope I won’t eat more than usual, but I do hope to linger longer at the manger scene where my Lord came gently into the world and remember His wonders.


Kingdom Heart Ministries
http://www.KimberlySowell.net

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Fear Not

It’s amazing what can happen to a nation in the span of about a week, and the span of that week isn’t quite over. We are in the aftermath of a natural disaster that has affected thousands of Americans’ lives and simultaneously in the face of a critical national election. All around us are people who are mourning the tragedy that has befallen us and at the same time fearing what may be to come.

What can we say, dear sisters? The tragedy of Hurricane Sandy is widespread and runs deep, and the physical, spiritual, and moral needs of our nation seem on many days to be a bottomless pit. We would sink in despair if we thought we had to climb our way out of this pit, but as followers of Christ, we have a different understanding on the situation, both in our nation and around the world. We participate in our government and we pray for our leaders, but we don’t count on them to meet our needs; we have a God in heaven who has adopted us, and He is able to provide for His children. We get involved in the relief efforts and we reach out to those who have lost much to the hurricane, but we also don’t take on the burden to rebuild people’s lives; we point them to the Savior, who is mighty to save and able to put all of the pieces of their lives back together.

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the LORD our God (Psalm 20:7). Lift up His name. Call upon His name. He is Bread for the hungry, Living Water for the thirsty, Wisdom for the confused, the Alpha and Omega for those who need a new start in life, the Shepherd for those who need direction, the King of Kings for all who long for the security of bowing the need to a trustworthy leader. He is Lord. He is God.  He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken (Psalm 62:2).

Will you take time now to pray for the people of our nation and to ask God to give Christians a great measure of courage today?