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Quiet Times in a Noisy World
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Fresh Starts -- Second Chances

Christmas

This Christmas message is not for you if . . .

 . . . this year, the holiday is shiny and bright and you're looking forward with anticipation to celebrating with family and friends.

This message is for you if, this year, your smile feels a little forced, Christmas carols make you long for the joys of past years, and lights on the tree sometimes blur as you listen to friends talk about preparing room for family.

We've been blessed with many, many wonderful Christmases--too noisy and messy for Norman Rockwell, but brimming with love and laughter.

So what do we do when Christmas arrives with a dark cloud instead of sparkling snow? When the walls echo with the giggles of Christmases past, but the house is empty? How do we celebrate in the wake of the loss of a loved one, a serious illness, or distance--geographical or relational--from family? 

Of course, we know we need to focus on the birth of Christ and think of others before ourselves. But I've found something--a little practice that I know will sound simplistic--that's helping me fight for joy this year. I'm finding it in captured moments. While the big picture doesn't look like I wish it did, there are those precious minutes, those snapshots of wonder and laughter, even here, beneath this cloud. There is the glitter on my dining room floor from a crafting grandson. And the pile of pillows and blankets in the living room from a sleepover by the tree. There is Marshmallow, the blow-up bear my oldest granddaughter gave me ten Christmases ago. There are the fifteen stocking hanging by the fireplace. How I long for Christmases past, when everyone was here to open them. But the stockings remind me to pray for each one. Important moments.

I think of a friend who is spending her first Christmas without her husband. The picture is not what she wants it to be. But there are moments--baking cookies with her grandchildren, watching them sing in a Christmas program. Sometimes it's as small as holding an ornament and remembering the person who gifted you with it. 

For me, at this moment, it's the smell of 7-layer-bars. No, I'm not baking them for a houseful. But my husband loves them. And that will be enough right now. And maybe, by the end of tomorrow night, I'll have a list of wonder moments far longer than I could have imagined--and the big picture will appear much brighter than I once thought. 

Even if this holiday is not all that you long for, I pray that this Christmas will be blessed with a long list of wonder moments. 

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