NovelSisters

watching, reading, and writing stories

Hope – A Light in the Darkness

Well I haven’t written a blog post in years. Honestly I just don’t have the free time that I used to. But I’ve been meditating on hope these past few weeks and I really felt like sharing what I’ve been learning. So for whoever needs a little encouragement, I hope this post blesses you.

It all started with my pastor’s first sermon for Advent. Advent always starts with looking at Hope. But I hadn’t realized why we celebrate Advent when we do. I’d heard rumors of pagan traditions and the winter solstice and that Jesus was actually born sometime in the Spring. But my pastor said celebrating the birth of Christ in December was intentional. It’s the darkest time of the year (for the northern hemisphere at least), and when everything seems dead and gloomy, that’s when Christ enters the picture and brings hope. And then after Christmas it gets brighter and brighter.

And I totally get it, as fall turns to winter and we have less and less daylight, it’s depressing. But then when suddenly all of these Christmas lights get put up, it’s not so gloomy, instead it’s cheerful. I know a lot of people have had a rough year in 2020 and many decided to start celebrating Christmas early. Many of my friends had their Christmas trees up before Thanksgiving, and my neighborhood is lit up with many more lights than in the past. It’s like we all need a reason to have hope. And that’s what Christ is. He knew we couldn’t fix this broken messed up world, that we were dying and lost and hopeless. So He came down, He entered in. God became man. What a miracle!

On top of this new revelation for why we celebrate Jesus’s coming at this time of year, I also found out that two planets, Saturn and Jupiter will be the closest they have been in 800 years, forming a bright “Christmas Star” this Monday December 21st. You can learn more by going here.

When I heard about it, I felt like it was a sign from God that we can still have hope. Even with the world-wide pandemic, and political upheaval in the United States, He is still in control and in Him we can still have hope.

So, wherever you are, I hope you take a minute to look at the “Christmas Star” and remember that Hope in Christ never dies.

Merry Christmas and here’s to a better year in 2021.

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One More Book

 

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Thanks for following my blog this past year, I hope the new year brings many new exciting posts and interesting observations. But for now I want to share my thoughts on my latest read. With the holiday time off, I was hoping to get some reading done and yesterday I finally had a good few hours of quiet to just sit and read. My book of choice was “Two From Galilee” by Marjorie Holmes. My grandmother had given me 3 of Holmes’s books several years ago and I finally read “The Messiah” and loved it. So when I saw that “Two From Galilee” was about Joseph and Mary’s love story and probably involved the First Christmas, I thought, what better time of year to read it?

So I just finished this morning and it was great! I love Holmes’s writing style, she describes things so well and really captures all of the internal struggles and conflicting emotions that these real people probably went through. It brought a new life to the old stories I’ve read hundreds of times and got me excited about what would happen next. Even though I knew what should happen, her characters were so lifelike and easy to relate to that I found myself caught up in their predicament. And it was so cool to see what Mary and Joseph’s families might have been like and what they thought about this strange event. I’m not sure if the way Holmes portrays the biblical events is completely accurate, but it’s pretty close.

So if you’ve never read any of Marjorie Holmes’s books, I highly suggest this one for a first read. It would come first chronologically for the story of Christ and some of her other books hint back to what has happened previously. I may even start the next book “Three From Galilee” today.

Well that’s it for 2015. Happy New Year!!!

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Christmastime is Here

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Everywhere you look, Christmas is there. The familiar tunes blare on the radio and in the stores you see the wintry themes and special deals. You’ve probably run into a few Santa’s by now, either taking pictures with children or ringing bells, or just figurines set up all over the place. Lights are decorating the parks, houses, streets and storefronts. The smell of pine needles may be filling your home, either from a real tree or a nice candle. And then there’s all the things to do: parties, shopping, baking, decorating, and whatever else the holidays bring.

I’ve noticed that my old blog post about what Christmas is about has gotten quite a few views even though it’s a very old post. When this time of years rolls around, it’s easy to get caught up in the hubbub and then wonder, wait, why am I even doing all this?

And that’s an important question. Why are you buying gifts? Why are you going to that party? Why are you decorating? What’s so important about Christmas?

My pastor talked last week about how Christmas has become an idol in our culture. We put all of this pressure on ourselves to have a “Perfect Christmas” and think that it will solve all our problems. So we try to get the perfect gifts for others, and give hints to our family and friends of what we really want. We spend all this money and time on doing things and most of the time, we just wear ourselves out. If that’s what Christmas is all about, it’s no wonder so many people get depressed around the holidays. It’s impossible to have a perfect Christmas. There’s always something that went wrong, something you never got around to doing, or something you had to say no to because you can’t say yes to everything.

But this year, God has been teaching me something about my heart. I’ve known the lies of consumerism and materialism and commercialism: Get More and You’ll be Happy. I know that isn’t true. But I’ve still bought into the habits. I feel a pressure to buy people gifts, even if they don’t really want what I’m giving them. I’ve started making lists of what I want for Christmas each year. And each year I just end up with more things that I can’t even remember who gave them to me.

So, after reading a radical book about decreasing called “7” by Jen Hatmaker. I decided that this December, I’d try my own kind of reduction. Instead of feeding the consumerism desires in my heart, I’m looking for ways to give. And not by going out and buying things to give away, but sorting through the things I already have and finding ones to let go of. I’ve already cleared through my bookshelf and stuffed animal collection. And boy things look a lot less cluttered. But more than that, I’ve started noticing places where I can give and finding joy in actually doing it. It’s not one more thing I need to do, one more thing I need to buy. It’s letting go of what I already have, what really belongs to God anyway and seeing someone else enjoy it. It’s so freeing.

So this year, I’m trying my best to give the way God has given, even when it hurts, and find joy in the true reason for the season: Jesus Christ who gave His perfect life for me.

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Tis the Season

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The holidays can be a blur of activity no matter what you are celebrating. It seems like time speeds up and the amount of commitments do too, so that you have less time to do more things. This year I’m adding my brother’s wedding to the craziness of my Christmas season.But something my soon to be sister-in-law said the other day has stuck with me. “We’re trying to find joy in the midst of busyness.” Instead of looking at the long list of to-dos and getting overwhelmed, she is trying to find joy in each task. I think this attitude is applicable to more than just wedding craziness, but can and should be applied in the holiday season too.

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in all the details: parties, presents, dinners, decorations, traveling, and whatever else your holiday includes. These things can crowd out what’s really important.

So here are a few things that are really important about this season, at least to me. Your list may differ, but I would encourage you to figure out what they are, and try to focus on them this season.

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1. Family. Even if I don’t get my sister/brother/parents the perfect gift, we’re still family, and we still love each other. I want to focus more on spending time with my family while we’re together and enjoying them. We tell jokes together, watch funny movies, and play board games and those memories have been more precious to me than any gift I’ve received. So I don’t want to miss out on spending time with my family this year, and showing them how much I love them, through the time I spend with them.

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2. Christ. To me, Christmas isn’t Christmas without Christ. The whole reason I have hope, joy, peace, life, love, or anything good, is because of God. He showed his love for me, by sending Jesus into this broken and messed up world. He experienced all the heartaches of this place, and He made a way for me to be saved from it. He showed the greatest love by dying in my place, taking my punishment, and being separated from the Father. So now, I don’t have to. His precious gift of Himself, is what Christmas is all about. And if I forget that, I forget what’s most important.

 

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3. Love. This really stems from my other important things. Christ’s love for me is the reason I can love my family, even when they disappoint me, or love a friend even when they get on my nerves. God’s love reached out to His enemies, and that love, working in me, should reach out to strangers, outcasts, even enemies. I’ve heard that love is the most powerful thing in the world, and when it comes from God, I’d say that sounds pretty accurate. God’s love changes everything. It’s changed my life, and it is still changing this world.

So there’s my list of important things for this crazy season. I’m going to try to focus on loving others, including my family, from an attitude of thankfulness for how Christ has loved me. And I’m pretty sure that will help me have joy instead of stress this year. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and enjoy the holidays too.

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The Importance of Thankfulness

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Even though Thanksgiving is over, the pumpkin pie is all eaten and the leftover turkey is now stuffed in the freezer, that doesn’t mean that being thankful is over for the year. Being thankful is very important to our attitude and perspective and it can affect how we react to our circumstances.

In church this past Sunday, one of my fellow leaders in Jr High ministry, talked about a man who lived through the Holocaust and stayed in three different concentration camps. But he decided to be thankful each day, and that gave him something that a lot of people around him lost; hope.

So as the holiday season continues towards Christmas, and away from Thanksgiving, I don’t want to forget the importance of giving thanks. And I want to encourage you to do the same. All the chaos of Christmas may seem more manageable if you remember that you have so much to be grateful for already. You don’t really need all those presents under the tree, they’re just another reason to be thankful.

I’ve also decided to accept a challenge to be grateful for something each day during the month of December. I probably won’t post every single thing I’m grateful for, but it is something I will be journaling about. And in case you’re interested, I’ll post a few of the things I’ve been thankful for so far.

1. Food. After all the Thanksgiving goodies and surplus in the fridge, I’ve realized what a blessing that is. There are a lot of people in this world who go to bed hungry and never get enough to eat. So I’m thankful that I have enough to eat.

2. My cat Alex. Right now he is curled up on my lap. Although it makes typing more difficult, he is keeping me nice and warm. He brings a smile to my face everyday and even when life get’s hard, he’s there to greet me with a cheerful meow. He is one of the most friendly cats I’ve ever owned and he makes sure that any guest to our home feels welcome.

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3. A job. I know work always has it’s frustrations, no matter what kind of work it is. But there is always a sense of accomplishment I get from finishing a task. Even if I don’t get any recognition for it, I feel a sense of fulfillment after I’ve worked, that I don’t get from just lounging around.

So there are a few things I’m thankful for, and I hope you continue to be thankful this month too.

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Things I’m Thankful For

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Well it’s November, you know the month before Christmas, and the month of Thanksgiving. And even if the advertisers skip Thanksgiving and start playing up Christmas, I love this time of year. And I love giving thanks. It’s important to stop and think about all that we have to be thankful for. So this month I would like to do a few posts about what I’m thankful for.

So here’s my first one.
I’m thankful for my cousin Lauren Hill. She was diagnosed with a rare brain cancer about a year ago, and it doesn’t look like she has much time left on this earth. But she has done so much with the time she has. It’s inspiring and I’m so grateful for her perseverance, her ambition, and how she’s living.

Here’s what she did just recently: http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=11810419

She makes me want to use the time I have wisely, enjoy it, and be a blessing to those around me.

So what’s something you are thankful for?

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What is Christmas About?

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It’s only five more days till Christmas hits us once more. But what is it all about?

Is it about pleasing children?
Maybe it’s about giving gifts or telling people you love them.

Is it about a little baby in a manger?
Or going to church and listening to hymns.

Is it about hanging stockings and waiting for Santa?
Or staying up late partying with friends and relatives.

Christmas can mean so many things to each person.

Sometimes all it means is a break from school, or a couple days off of work.
It could even mean more work as the Christmas rush crowds the store you work in.

It could mean a profit for businesses that have been staring at red numbers for the last two months.

It could mean new movies to go see, like The Hobbit, Saving Mr. Banks, or The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

What’s it all about? Why all the busyness, stress, commercials, lights, music, and hullabaloo?

Why do we get so excited at this time of year?

Is it just a habit? Maybe the excitement of childhood just kicks back in,
or is it something more?

I don’t know about you, but this is what I think Christmas is about…

A MYSTERY.

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Image Source: https://pixabay.com/en/manger-christmas-santos-reyes-69225/

It’s been sung about, talked about, and preached about for years.
How did an infinite, all-powerful, huge, perfect, holy, all knowing, all seeing, almighty, wise, perfect, beautiful God and King, become a finite, helpless, tiny, vulnerable baby. And why would He do such a thing?

If your life was perfect, free from stress, worry, hurt and pain, and you could control everything, would you leave that life and enter into a broken, painful, stress-filled life, where people are seeking to kill you and you can’t do anything about it?

That’s what Jesus did for us, and that’s what Christmas is all about. He left His perfect home, to bring are messed up world peace. He left His perfect life to give our broken one hope. He loved us, when we were unlovable. And one day He died on a cross in our place, so we could live.

As you go about the last minute Christmas preparations, remember what Jesus offers you: Peace, Love, Joy, Hope, and Salvation. Don’t leave his present unopened, enter in and enjoy what He longs to give you.

Merry Christmas!

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