Christmas Tears

Some times when I am overwhelmed or too tired, the only thing that really makes me FEEL better is a good cry. (Bless my Husband’s heart!) This season, as joyful as it is, comes with its share of tears too… because I am always a little more overwhelmed than usual, things rarely go exactly as “Norman Rockwell” as I envisioned them going and in my valiant effort to make everything just right, sleep is usually the first thing I let slide right off my list of top priorities. Not smart, but tis the season!

A few days ago, I read Psalm 56:8: “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” My heart did a little leap to think that God sees every tear and knows all my sorrows – the real ones and the ones I create for myself by thinking my crazy family is ever going to look like a still depiction of the “perfect” Christmas-y group. I flipped to Revelation 21:4… “He will wipe every tear from their eyes” and then my finger wandered up to verse 3 which reads, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.”

Isn’t that what Christmas is, really? God loving us so much that He came to wipe our tears with His own hands, to wash our feet and take our sins and teach us to pray and know what it is to be the creation rather than the Creator? Isn’t Christmas about God understanding us and saving us? He has always cared so much about our tears that He bottles and records every one. In Jesus, He came to experience and know our sorrows – to cry His own tears. And, even though we missed His first coming, one day, He will take our faces in His loving hands and gently wipe all of our tears away. THAT is love. THAT is hope. And THAT is joy – even when things aren’t going exactly the way we would like them to go.

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Be A Christmas Mood Maker This Year!

For those of you that really want to celebrate Advent with your Kiddos, but are about to throw in the towel because, once again, it’s December 2 and you haven’t even started yet, here’s a list of simple ideas to spread some cheer that don’t take much time or preparation. OK, “Host A Neighborhood Drop-In” IS number 12, but that’s only because it was already on my calendar for December 12! I intentionally made the first 2 days super easy and the 3rd with store-bought Hershey’s Kisses in mind so you could “catch up” – or more accurately, JOIN ME in a late start! That’s right, I compiled the list and I still didn’t start on December 1!

Keep in mind also, that you get to choose what you do: make a “Top 10” List and do one thing every Friday, Saturday and Sunday plus Christmas Eve. Combine your favorites and have some awesome “Christmasy” family nights this month – whatever! The main thing is to celebrate with your families, keep your focus on Jesus and make the mood of your home festive. Last night, my son told the MC of our town’s Christmas Tree Lighting that his favorite thing about Christmas is “the mood that hangs in the air”. Such a proud “Mommy Moment”! I realized later that I am the “Mood Maker” in my house – and so are you! It’s not about the plan or the execution. It’s about the “mood”. Merry Christmas, Friends! May your mood be merry and bright! May you know peace on your little corner of the earth and joy that somehow spreads to the whole world!

1. Read the Christmas Story in Luke 2. Pray that God will show your family how to celebrate Jesus every day this month.

2. Make a paper “Countdown Chain” – as you remove links, write one way you celebrated Jesus that day on it. Save them all to review on Christmas Eve.

3. Take treats to the staff at school/church/work.

4. Adopt a family in need. Matthew 25:40

5. Pay for the person behind you in the drive thru – be sure to leave a Christmas card for them with the cashier!

6. Drive through a live Nativity – if you’re local, “The Living Christmas Story” at Union United Methodist Church is one you might like!

7. Have a “snowball” fight… rolled up socks work GREAT in SC!

8. Family game night – complete with hot cocoa and candy canes.

9. Donate everything in your family change jar to the Salvation Army Bell Ringers. Remember, the widow in Luke 21 gave all she had.

10. Go grocery shopping for the sole purpose of donating the food you buy.

11. Pay someone’s past due library fines! See Romans 13:8 and thanks to our Children’s Minister, Mr. Chris, for this idea!

12. Host a drop-in for your neighbors!

13. Two Words: Christmas Lights! Think popular local venues – like Saluda Shoals or the Lights Before Christmas at Riverbanks if you’re here in Columbia – or a pajama-clad ride around your own neighborhood!

14. Watch your favorite Christmas movie – don’t forget the popcorn!

15. Fill out Christmas cards! Pray for the recipients.

16. Bake Christmas Cookies.

17. Make a gingerbread house. They even have foam ones at the craft store!

18. Tape quarters to note cards expressing the love of Jesus. Tape the cards to vending machines around town!

19. Wrap presents together!

20. Go on a search for Baby Jesus – see how many Nativity scenes you can find & leave a note thanking your neighbors for remembering the reason for the season.

21. Super Secret Sibling Shopping Spree – take your Kiddos to buy their siblings’ presents… make sure the present remains a surprise!

22. Go Christmas Caroling!

23. Make reindeer food for Christmas Eve – equal parts oatmeal & glitter. Don’t forget to sprinkle it in the front yard when you leave cookies for Santa!

24. Snuggle up and take a look back at all the celebrating you did this month. Thank Jesus for coming, living and dying for YOU. Merry Christmas!