Anne Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts was recommended to me by my parents’ pastor.  Although I have not completed this rich text, I have started my own list of thankful moments.  Also, I read Voskamp’s blog.  As her words jump from the screen to my consciousness, I am inspired and renewed.

Recently, Voskamp wrote, “Rest in the rest of Christmas.”  Those words could have been written just for me.  I will travel a lot in the next few days.  For the first holiday ever I am recognizing that I cannot possibly see each family member and close friend in a whirl wind trip home.  Time is precious.  I hope to make the most of my time at home.

I am unplugging from social media for the next few days.  I plan to play Bananagrams, sleep later than usual, and enjoy good novels.

But the most important task of all as I “rest in the rest of Christmas” is to remember the real reason of Christmas is the birth of Christ.  I would not have genuine hope, peace, joy, and love unless the divine came to earth to save us.  

I pause from the business to say, “Merry Christmas to you and your family.  May each of you find ‘rest in the rest of Christmas.'”

“Be still and know that I am God!”  Psalm 46:10


Different Kind of Christmas

“Joseph, are you sure we have to go to Bethlehem?  I am about to give birth to a baby!  I love you, but I am not looking forward to riding a donkey for hours upon hours.”

Scripture at times is descriptive.  And on other occasions scripture leaves us wondering about conversations and reactions.  The story of Jesus’ birth is one of those accounts where I wish more detail was given.  How far into the journey was the young couple before the contractions started?  Did Joseph even know how to deliver a baby?

Yet, Mary made the best of trying circumstances.  She brought Jesus into the the world.  Mary delivered without the companionship of her mother, sisters, and closet friends.  She did what needed to be done with a heart of obedience.  And in the end, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Perhaps like me you are experiencing a different kind of Christmas this year.  Traditions are changing for my family as we enter into new seasons of life.  Yet we still get to spend together together celebrating Christ’s birth and the warmth of family.

Today I take a lesson from Mary.  Alicia, go with the flow and recognize that God’s plan for you has you exactly where you need to be.  Serve in obedience and treasure the reminders of God’s goodness .

I pray that during this different type of Christmas I will embrace the newness with a willing heart and open mind!

Caroling & Conneticut

Yesterday I was browsing Facebook in the afternoon after a morning of wedding plans and lunch with Adam and a close friend.  I begin to notice the posted news articles about Connecticut, and the statuses about people praying for the victim’s families.  I searched online, and I read the news story.

I student taught in Kindergarten.  I am a minister to children.  I have worked with children in a variety of settings, and children hold a special place in my heart.  I am stunned that a tragedy of this magnitude would happen…especially to children and especially this close to Christmas.

Last night I gathered with my former Sunday school class to spend time together and go caroling.  The words of “Away in a Manger” pierced my heart as I thought about the grieving families in Connecticut.  “Bless all the dear children in thy tender care and take us to heaven to live with thee there.”  Twenty young children went to heaven yesterday, and I pray for their families.  I am not sure what to pray, but as I sang those lyrics last night I knew to pray and to keep praying.

We live in a world that is not at peace.  We live in a world where brokenness is everywhere.  We live in a world where awful tragedies like this happen.  We live in a world where violence has touched each of us, directly and indirectly.

Yet, we live in a world where we can still experience hope, peace, joy, and love this Advent season.  The greatest gift the world has ever experienced came in the form of a child, a baby, into our world in the humblest of places, a stable.

Immanuel….Indeed in all the chaos, pain, and confusion, and even when we feel alone and forsaken, God is with us.