For many of us back to work today, it sort of seems like Christmas is over and it’s time to look ahead to 2016. Personally, I love looking ahead to the New Year…a time to renew our commitments to our health, our finances, our dreams. As many of you know I’m a firm believer that God gives each of us special talents or gifts to use in service to Him and others and it is His will that we find out what they are and then use them to the best of our abilities. Now that the material gift giving of the hectic holidays is over, I hope each of us is ready to re-examine our God-given gifts and how we can best give them away to help others. But wait, Christmas isn’t over yet, you say? You’re right! We haven’t even celebrated the Epiphany yet, when the wise men visited the baby Jesus and brought Him their gifts. And so I believe that at the same time, we need to stay in the Christmas spirit by continuing to present to others…our families, friends and yes, even our co-workers, considering their needs as well as our own goals and dreams. Often for me it feels like the two are in conflict. Sometimes I just want to focus full-steam ahead on making my dreams come true and using my gifts that I forget to be present to the needs of others around me. I think it’s all about finding balance…looking ahead to our goals of the future and keeping our feet firmly planted in today, personal fulfillment and sacrifice for others, gifts and presence. When I feel overwhelmed or torn I try to remember my favorite Bible passage: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28). I hope as 2016 looms on the horizon we find the strength, faith and courage to discover and fulfill our dreams, love and serve others more fully, maintain balance and open ourselves up to feeling more harmony, peace, love and joy. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Monthly Archives: December 2015
Tonight at 11:49 pm EST is the darkest time of the year as the winter solstice occurs. (Universal time, 4:49 12/22). Historians and theologians say it’s no coincidence that we celebrate Jesus’ birth a few days later, on December 25 as the light begins to dawn on the darkness more each day. No coincidence that Jesus is found by the light of a star. This year seems to be a particularly dark time in the world with ISIS persecuting people for their beliefs across the globe…and politicians in our country lying just to win. It’s hard to see the light, the truth, the hope. For some people, there may be darkness in their own lives…loneliness, doubt, sickness, sadness. It is especially hard for them to see the light of hope. I am reminded that we need to be examples of Christ as much as we can be now more than ever, to bring the light of truth and hope to others – with kindness, forgiveness, honesty, compassion and love. Jesus says “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12). Lord, help me to try to see the light of Your truth and hope, and in turn, spread Your light to those around me, especially those who are in the dark.
I watched the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life” with my husband last night for the umpteenth time. It always touches me with its message. But for the first time I really started thinking about the “hole” I might leave if I had never been born…how I’ve touched other lives during my own. And at first, I thought, maybe that hole would be pretty small. But the more I thought about it, the more I realize that I have touched other lives in many small ways – as a mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a writer, a sponsor, a Christian. And more importantly, I have been touched by others enough to realize I have a wonderful life. Sure, our house is drafty and the banister is loose and I get annoyed sometimes when the kids are loud. But the movie reminds me how blessed I truly am. I am reminded to be joyous and to pass along that joy to others…because no matter what little problems, frustrations, hurts or sadness I am experiencing, overall my life is a good one – and I know it will be even better in heaven as long as I believe. Especially during this season I believe we need to pass on joy, especially to those needing it – to witness that God truly loves us. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24).
In the wake of the confirmation that the shootings of 14 innocent victims in San Bernardino, CA were by Islamic terrorists, I am deeply disturbed by additional news that a neighbor of the killers refused to report the pair to authorities after witnessing suspicious activity at their apartment over fears she would be labeled “racist.” I believe this shows how some have lost their courage to stand up to what’s wrong despite the possibility they may “look bad” or be labeled a bigot, how being politically correct may have now taken precedence over fighting evil – which, in this instance had deadly consequences. The Nazis were able to gain momentum and kill millions when people looked the other way. Bullies get away with vicious acts when kids worry about being cool instead of stepping in. Women and children become murder victims when domestic violence and child abuse go unreported. I have to admit I’ve never been tested in this regard…but I pray that if or when I am, I have the courage to speak up or take action even though it requires the risk that I might be ridiculed or looked down upon – instead of playing it safe or worrying what others may think. As the famous quote from Edmund Burke goes, “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” I also believe it is time we wake up to the world around us and be ready to take a stand. As Paul tells the Thessalonians, “…for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly…and they will not escape…But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief…So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober…putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.” (1 Thes 5:1-8) Each of the Gospel writers warn us to stay awake, to be ready for the time when we are called to choose to do the right thing, to act on behalf of our faith, to take a stand. Calling all faith warriors!