Keeping the Christmas Spirit Going

It seems like once the New Year arrives people have often times moved beyond the Christmas spirit or season and are now fixated on new beginnings, keeping trendy resolutions, and sometimes creating outlandish goals for the upcoming year.

It’s almost as if the New Year pours in and Christmas is drowned out, right?

I’m seriously as guilty as they come with quickly moving on to my New Year resolutions.

In fact, a few weeks ago my husband commented that he wanted to start running to help get in shape. But then nothing came of it. Oddly enough some of our good friends contacted us the other day asking if we’d like to participate in a half marathon happening at the beginning of May. With the idea of motivation to spur us along in our new goal of running this year, we reluctantly committed…so now we’re signed up to compete in this half marathon that we’re absolutely (equally) unprepared for and clueless about.😂

In entertaining the process of training I honestly don’t want to get too hung up on this new adventure of ours. Yes I will train by coming up with a workout plan that fits my lifestyle, and I’ll watch my food intake and how my body reacts, etc. My overall strategy will be to focus on those physical elements rather than the mental-side of things. Because I know that if I concentrate on how crazy it seems (for me) to run thirteen miles on a Sunday morning in a few more months (when I’m currently out of shape), then that could seriously mess with my mindset — leading me to pre-self-elimination from the race, rather than a finish line destination.

OK so going back to that Christmas spirit thing…several times during the month of December I made it a point to read through Luke chapter 2 (Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth) and verse 20 caught my attention every single time. It says this: “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”

Goodness I just love those words!! These shepherds had just witnessed the very first Christmas, firsthand, as they visited a Baby Jesus born in Bethlehem. We see by the words in verse 20 that afterwards the shepherds returned back to their regular business — but not unchanged!!! They were glorifying and praising God because of what they had experienced. The shepherds were, no doubt, sharing this unique adrenaline-rushing, exciting birth announcement with others.

What’s more, is that if we back up a few verses we know that the shepherds had had an encounter with angels before they went to see Baby Jesus. I’m going to paraphrase to shorten and explain the setting…while the shepherds saw Baby Jesus they spread the words of what they had been told by the angels; they shared with those around them that the angels had referred to Jesus as their “Savior” and “Messiah.” And then verse 18 says, “All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.”

Don’t miss the beauty in these words…ALL who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

Whew!! I gotta take a minute to soak that up. I love it.

We, as Christians, are given the same opportunity to share the Christmas spirit with others just like the shepherds chose to do, so long ago. All it takes is for us to be mindful of the Christmas story and be willing to pass that story on (regardless of the technical Christmas-calendar-date) …or even share with someone how Jesus is working in our lives. For the shepherds, spreading the word made a huge “Christmas spirit” impact, not only for them, but in the lives of those around them.

The thing is, making New Year’s resolutions, healthy changes, and fun goals are all fine…BUT we must remember how important it is to keep the Christmas spirit active and alive all year.

If I get too hung up on my goals then I get distracted or side-tracked and risk limiting the Christmas season to really just the month of December. I believe the purpose of the Christmas spirit isn’t meant to be set to just a particular season, but rather a powerful reason to make Christ known anytime of the year.

It’s a bold, true, and shareable story that can change lives if we’re willing to feel it in our hearts and live it out — even in the midst of New Year’s resolutions beckoning our attention.

Patience Required

I was introduced to someone this past year and as necessary have needed to maintain communication and a relationship (with this person) due to responsibility.

This relationship has absolutely tore me to pieces as we haven’t connected too well.

There have been times I feel like I’m walking on egg shells—not knowing if the next thing I say is going to offend or build positive character…wondering if my quirky demeanor was understood or rejected…if the quietness of this person is caused by something I’ve done or if it’s just a normal characteristic of theirs.

It’s interesting because I had plenty of time to prepare for our meeting one another. I can literally remember beforehand praying the words “God help us to show (said person) an amazing Jesus. Help us to not miss the opportunity for *** to see you through our family, for your glory…” and now here we are months in and goodness as my patience has been tested, stretched, and grown I’m the one experiencing Jesus in a whole new way. I’m praying with 100% reliance on God to work through me and in this.

In the past I’ve probably been guilty of praying yet doubting God’s capability or His timing, and not fully trusting God with my request…but this has been such an incredible game changer. Yes this experience has caused me more mental battles than I could’ve ever imagined possible, more tears of frustration, or worry of failure…BUT, with that, I’ve been challenged to press into God on a deeper level and hold onto His word as I study scripture to live out peaceful hope.

This morning as I was reading a devotion I came across Matthew 7; verses 1-5 say this, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, let me take the speck out of your eye, and all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite? First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Ouch…conviction time.

Although I have many times felt confused or irritated by this relationship, and have had to pray repeatedly for more grace, these verses grab my heart with conviction and remind me that God is in this and it’s not for me to judge or try to figure out all the details.

As I mentioned this deal has tore me to pieces but the beautiful thing is when something important to God gets torn up, purposeful rebuilding happens. I’ve seen it in my marriage, through people who have overcome addiction and given their life to Christ. There’s evidence all throughout the Bible—look at the hardships and later success of Joseph (Genesis 37-50), or the devotion of Daniel regardless of the adversity he faced (book of Daniel), and even the sins of David yet the remorse and heart for God he had (Psalm 51).

…all torn apart (emotionally) and nevertheless beautifully rebuilt.

There is definitely something for me to learn through this, especially in the area of patience. And recently, as time has passed, I’ve seen positive changes on both sides, surely God is at work…I can actually feel this relationship gradually twisting from acquaintance to friendship and God alone is to be glorified for answering prayer.

Sharing this post causes me to feel a little guilty…but I’ve noticed that when I put my thoughts to the blogging world I’m then held accountable on a different level and honestly that’s what I need right now.

Thanks for reading. Happy New Year if I don’t post again soon!!❤️

-Alicia

Quiet Time Necessity

Sometimes when I substitute teach, my job assignment stretches beyond the classroom.

Recently I ended up in the school’s lunchroom to supervise bubbly elementary students. An extended squirming hand raised high let’s the adults know when attention is needed—usually indicating milk cartons are being stubborn and extra help is needed in opening them, maybe a kiddo wants permission to pass on their veggies, or he or she is ready to dump their tray once they’ve finished eating.

While I helped a few weeks ago, a hand went up and I walked over.

A little girl, probably second grade, looked up at me with sad eyes and I knew we weren’t dealing with regular lunch issues. I knelt down beside her and asked what was wrong. With tears welled in the corners of her eyes she spoke through pouty lips, “I want to sit alone right now.”

“Well why? What’s going on?” I asked with concern.

The tiny voice responded, “I’m just sad, it’s too loud in here, and I want to be alone.”

“If you sit alone though, then you’ll be lonely.” I stated with matter of fact reasoning.

“But that’s what I want! I want to be lonely,” she persistently replied.

In my unprofessional opinion I’m not sure anyone chooses to want to be ‘lonely’…Determined to get down to the core problem I asked the light-pink shirted cutie if there was something causing her sadness and she revealed that her great grandpa had passed away and she was missing him. Together we decided she could stay seated where she was and didn’t need to visit with anyone around her, she could just sit quietly—reflecting on the good-time memories she had with him.

Seeing someone hurt is hard. I want to be able to fix the worry, the trouble, the pain—and bring it all to an end. But at times, a little alone time is honestly the best option. It’s there that we can take a deep breath, quietly sort thoughts, and recollect a positive mindset.

As a Christian I thoroughly look forward to my own “quiet time”. I’m addicted to it in a healthy sense and when I don’t get it I’m kind of a mess. Having quiet time (or me time) means I can spend time, not technically alone, but with Jesus—studying His word and embracing scripture that deals with my matters. It’s then that I find soul-quenching refreshment and the most beautiful thing about it is…I’m left satisfied. Every. Single. Time.

Jesus set the perfect example for us as He purposefully spent quiet time with the Lord in prayer and then reconnected with his followers shortly after, surely feeling a deep sense of fulfillment after doing so.

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” -Matthew 26:36

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. -Mark 1:35

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. -Luke 5:16

When we follow Jesus’ footsteps and mimic his character (spending time before the Lord) we too can find ourselves feeling refreshed—replacing disappointment with contentment, and sorrow with gladness.

…Later that afternoon when I ended up back in the classroom, I heard some giggling coming from the hallway. Turning my attention toward the laughter I saw a once teary-eyed girl from the lunchroom now walking beside a friend…with a large grin spread across her sweet face.

This time when her hand went up she gave an excited, big wave and quickly I returned one—thankful to see her in such a delighted, cheerful spirit.

Sometimes just a bit of quiet time followed with a mixture of friendship and laughter can make all the difference in creating a positive outcome…but the best kind of “alone time” is no doubt when we invite God to be a part of it.

A She Shed in the Making part 1

In my last post I announced Nathan is building a she shed for me…I also wrote (by accident) that it was for our ten year anniversary. My husband quickly informed me after reading my post that it should’ve said fifteen year anniversary, not ten. Oops! And then he also reminded me of the wonderful gift he surprised me with for our ten year anniversary…

Nate and I were newlyweds and I can remember the first time I ever spotted a Yorkie, I thought “I need to get me one of those!!!” I BEGGED Nathan for nearly ten years…now we have a sweet and tiny, seizure-filled, five year old Eli who literally falls over at the drop of a feather with fright! Goodness I just love him! He’s so darn cute!! Nate calls him a genetic mutation but I know he actually thinks the world of him!😉

So now for the fifteen year gift…my husband said to me a few months ago he wanted to build me a she shed as an anniversary present. My exact words: “a sh-what?!” I had no clue about these little gems and as he began to describe the possibilities a “she shed” offers I jumped right on the trendy bandwagon.

Just Pinterest or google she shed if you don’t know, and your search will render all sorts of overwhelming results. It’s creative, weird, and exciting all at the same time! I kinda feel like I’m getting my very own ‘mom’s little playhouse’.

We discussed size, material preference, location, and everything else in between.

I’m always amazed at what my husband is capable of doing outside of his oil field work so I cheer him on enthusiastically. Men need that, and in a marriage conference Nathan and I recently attended I learned that a majority of men would rather hear the words “thank you and good job!” over “I love you!” They often identify their worth in this way. I’ve done both for years but this helped me be even more mindful of how important it is to encourage and to be sure to not take for granted the good things he does for our family and especially with this sweet she shed gesture he’s working on.

The number one question I’ve been asked by family and friends, “what are you going to do with your she shed?” And to be honest this was a concern of mine from the get go. I’m not great at accepting gifts but when I saw how excited Nate was to make this for me I was determined to graciously accept it but also wanted to be sure I would use it, it wouldn’t go to waste, and it would serve a purpose. Continue reading “A She Shed in the Making part 1”

I’m Over You Fear!

Forewarning: this is a sensitive one…

Maybe you’ve noticed my absence in writing lately. I’ve honestly been trying to avoid this post and I haven’t been able to write anything else in the meantime…but I can feel the Holy Spirit whispering “write this out!!!”

So I’m going to be obedient — here we go…

“Why do you care what anyone else thinks about you?” she asked, almost begging it out of me with deep concern.

My eyes zeroed in on hers and my words went something like this as I revealed to yet another friend my very real and ongoing personal struggle , “I don’t know, I guess it goes back to my people-pleasing motives. As much as I want to think it doesn’t, I suppose the sexual abuse from my childhood probably messes with me still, subconsciously…and that’s why I’m bothered if I think someone has a problem with me.”

That conversation between my friend and I isn’t too terribly seasoned, the words of encouragement she spoke over me as we visited are still fresh on my mind.

Fear is something I struggle with almost daily. And fear of acceptance is my biggest battle.

I want people to accept me for who I am. I don’t want to let them down. I want them to be pleased with who I’ve become.

There are times when I feel like I’m okay and other times when I think I could largely benefit from temporarily living in a mental institute to sort out and nullify my crazy. My friend had caught me on a not-so-good day. Continue reading “I’m Over You Fear!”

A Thorn In My Flesh

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time you know I openly share about past struggles and overcoming adversity through Christ’s strength. I’ve wrote about my failures and the reality of how I used to live one hundred percent in the world and not at all in God’s word.

There are times when Satan still torments my thoughts with shame or regret from my past—and it’s in those moments where I have to press into God’s truth, allow the Holy Spirit to remind me of memorized scripture, and spend time in prayer to counteract and push those thoughts away. I want so badly to not only push them away, but to throw them out, entirely…But I think of Paul’s writing in 2 Corinthians 12:7b and it helps me sort out my ongoing battle, “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” -2 Corinthians 12:7b Continue reading “A Thorn In My Flesh”

Sunshine Blogger Award

Thank you Vivian from God’s Whispers of Truth for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger Award. I always enjoy reading your blog for sweet inspiration and encouragement!

Be sure to check out Vivian’s blog if you haven’t already. Click on the link above and then read her “my story” page under the menu option and you’ll be hooked—you’ll see for yourself what a brave warrior she truly is.

About the Sunshine award:

This award is given to creative, positive and cheerful bloggers by other bloggers as a token of appreciation and admiration.

Here are the rules:

• Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to him/her.

• Answer the 11 questions provided by the blogger who nominated you.

• Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.

• Notify the nominees by commenting on one of their blog posts.

• List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post.

I’ll answer the questions Vivian had for me first:

1) What is the bible verse/passage which you turn to the most for comfort?

I’m obsessed with Philippians 4:13, ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength‘….probably because it was the first verse that spoke to my broken, lost heart at the time, it grabbed me and directed my attention to God, and still has a grip on me. It was also the first verse I memorized on my own without someone else’s input or influence. Continue reading “Sunshine Blogger Award”