Each year at this time I contemplate the meaning of Christmas. In the midst of shopping, spending, wrapping, and socializing; I pause to consider the true significance of the season.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men! (Luke 2:13-14)

All the meaning of Christmas is expressed in those two lines. At Christmas we are to praise God and be grateful for the many gifts He has given us. We are to enjoy a time of peace and share our joy with others. At Christmas we remember to celebrate the birth of Jesus and give thanks for the blessings He brings.

This Christmas I pray you enjoy a peaceful and glorious holiday season. Please know that God is with you through every season of the year.

How do you celebrate a peaceful Christmas? What gives the most meaning to your holiday?

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I have not always felt excited about the arrival of winter. Each year when cold weather began, I feared the extra expenses, the gifts I had to buy, and the contributions I was expected to make. I worried about the weather and the way life grew more complicated. I resented the increased demands on my time, the shopping I was expected to do, and the events I was obligated to attend.

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve learned to appreciate the special blessings of winter: the weekend nights making popcorn, snuggling under blankets, and watching old movies. I value the extra time devoted to spending with family, friends, and the people important to me.  

I have learned that I choose how I approach the winter season and what Christmas means to me. I decide where to spend my time and money, and I will invest my resources in the ways that bring me the most reward.

I choose how many gifts to buy, whom to buy for, and how much to spend. I refuse to enter any mall or store where I will fight with crowds and stand in line with other tired and frustrated customers. I choose to do my shopping early and then relax as the holiday approaches.

I choose how I will spend my time and the people who will share it. I am free to politely decline invitations to events and activities. This year I RSVP’d “Not this time” to a very important evening, because I plan to spend that time with my mentee, eating pizza and chatting at my dining room table.

As I get older, I find it more important to choose a peaceful and reflective winter and holiday season. I prefer to relax into the deep silence of winter nights – the time of serious thought and contemplation. I choose winter as my time to wrap in warm quilts on the couch, watching A Christmas Story for the hundredth time. I spend my winter evenings appreciating and enjoying the company of the people I care for most, preparing for the change and renewal of the year to come.

This year I encourage you to enjoy the winter months as a time to consider and plan, discuss and dream. I hope you make winter and Christmas the time of rest they were intended to be. I pray you enjoy a peaceful and comforting winter and holiday season.

How have you changed your approach to winter and Christmas? What are you looking forward to this season?

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Every year brings lessons and experiences that contribute to my growth and understanding. As 2018 draws to a close, I’m considering the events that happened this year and the lessons I have learned.

God sends us the people we need when we need them. I started attending a new church this year and immediately made awesome new friends who have enriched and blessed my life. I’ve taken time to connect with some old friends to strengthen and renew those relationships too. I’ve found that when I remain open and welcoming to new encounters, the people I need to meet find their way into my path.

Prayer has to be consistent and persistent. This year I completed the Let Prayer Change Your Life study by Becky Tirabassi. I learned that God wants me to talk with Him, and when I do, my relationship with Him grows.

I’m not perfect. This year I got two speeding tickets while driving through a particular neighborhood. I learned that though I try to be a generally good and law-abiding citizen, I am not immune to sin. I sometimes break the rules and need a penalty to remind me that I still screw up.

I’m not as smart as I think I am. This year I had an embarrassing experience that involved sending an email to the wrong address and then having to admit my mistake. I felt stupid, and I learned that sometimes I need the experience of public humility to remind me I’m not as extraordinary as I pretend to be.

Mindfulness increases discipline. For a few years I have struggled with food and weight issues, so this year I took positive steps to reverse my bad eating habits. I am learning that behaving mindfully helps me make the decisions I need to reach my goals.

It’s a long walk to the top. “Slow and steady wins the race,” I told my nephew as I held his hand and struggled to hike up the side of Crazy Horse Monument. “Did you ever read The Tortoise and the Hare?” All journeys take time, and I am continuing to learn that when we look upward and keep moving, we will eventually reach our destination.

Appreciate all you have. I have been blessed with a soft bed, a warm fire, people who love me, and a food bowl that’s filled regularly. I am always learning that when I am content and grateful, I feel richly rewarded.

Try something new. In October a friend invited me to an event in a neighborhood where I don’t usually travel. I was a little apprehensive about journeying into an unknown area, but the show was great and we had a good time. I learned that sometimes when we venture into unfamiliar territory, we discover that new experience is its own reward.

I am looking forward to the new experiences and discoveries that lie ahead in 2019. I am expecting many changes and new developments in the next year, and I’m excited about learning all the lessons that 2019 holds. I pray you enjoy a happy new year and many blessings in the year ahead.

What did you learn in 2018? What are you looking forward to as we approach the new year?Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail