What Christmas Means to Me

There are a lot of different views and opinions and feelings over the day of Christmas.

What are people supposed to celebrate? When are they supposed to celebrate? What kind of traditions are we supposed to do in order to keep in line with God’s desires for us? What does God think about Christmas since He didn’t add it in to the Bible?

Well, I am putting all of those questions and other people’s opinions aside. Here is what Christmas means to me:

Around 2000 years ago a baby boy was born. His parents named him Jesus and his life would be like no other life ever lived on earth.

His life is what I celebrate on Christmas Day. His life is what I celebrate every day during the year.

To me Christmas is just a day in which we can celebrate with our friends and family and share about the love of God openly – through words and gifts. It is a specific time where we can just slow down and thank God for the blessings in our life and reflect on His love for us. However, this celebrating shouldn’t stop once December 25th is over.

The DAY when we celebrate the birth of Jesus is not the most important part of Christmas and it should not be the focal point. Jesus’ life should be celebrated all year long.

Did you get that?

His life and his purpose on this earth should be remembered, shared and celebrated all year long.

So this week I am celebrating with family and friends over cookies, turkey, presents and carols…..but my celebrating won’t stop there. The birth of our Lord and Saviour will be remembered in our house all year long.

And that is what Christmas means to me.

Blessings

Tonight I am taking a break from my 31 day challenge (sadly, I am not very good at following my own challenge since I should be over 1/2 way done it, but somedays I just don’t have the brain capacity to write) and I am going to share with you what’s been happening in my life lately.

If you have read any of my previous blog posts, you will know that this past month has been a rough one for me and my family. We went from losing a baby to me being sick for 3 weeks and now that I am finally out of it life has been getting back to normal.

Well, recently my family has been blessed by God beyond anything we could have ever hoped or dreamed for. The reason? We tithed.

Let me explain.

My husband, the youth Pastor at our church, makes sure that his 10% comes straight off of his pay cheques so we don’t have to worry about it. However, he does a bit of acting and writing on the side and this year he had forgetful moment for a few months and forgot to tithe on this income, as well we forgot to do so with our child tax credit and a bit of money that I had been bringing in.

And, like most families, we have a bit of debt that has collected over the years. The past six or so months have been such a huge financial struggle, so we decided that the only way to help us with our debt and to free up some more cash was to ask the bank to refinance our mortgage on the house. We tried, it failed. We tried again with another place and it looked grim.

Then two weeks ago, my husband came home and told me that it just hit him over the head like a tonne of bricks. WE HADN’T BEEN TITHING OUR FULL 10%. Well, no wonder we were struggling financially. We had not been fulfilling a commandment of God.

The next day my husband walked in to work with a bit of money, to help with our tithe for the month and within a week we not only had an approval from a bank to refinance our mortgage (the percentage and payments were going to be much less than we were paying currently) AND I randomly had a job offer to nanny for another Christian family once a week. 

God answered so many prayers in just two short days! We couldn’t believe it.

So I wanted to share with you tonight something else about God – without looking at scripture (although I could pull a few verses out to help support what happened to us) – but just taking a look at an ordinary life and seeing what He can do!

Simply,

J

Day 10: Truth/#IAMNOT

This week has been a rough one for me.

This week the baby I was pregnant with would have been 12 weeks.

This week we should be celebrating with our friends and family about the miracle of life, and looking forward to May 2014.

This week I should be shopping for super cute maternity clothes for myself, and new baby attire as well.

This week I should be checking the “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” book a hundred times to make sure everything is going smoothly.

Instead this week I am feeling alone, empty, defeated and a failure.

Even though I am feeling this way, I am grateful for the ladies who, without even knowing me, are lifting me up in prayer (as well as for those who do know me). I am so thankful for a husband who, even not knowing how I am deeply feeling about all of this, can help ease my heavy burden. I am also amazed at the love of my God who speaks words of TRUTH in to my life.

“For you are God, O Sovereign Lord. Your words are truth…” 2 Samuel 7:28 (NLT)

This week I have been feeling like such a failure (especially as a mom) and doubt has been filing me up. But when I am filled with feelings of hopelessness and despair I know that 1) I am not alone 2) These are lies, not the truth and 3) When I turn to the one who is the TRUTH I learned what I really am.

I AM NOT the lies that the devil tries to fill me up with.

I AM loved – “…For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Romans 5:5

For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

I AM just how God created me to be – “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

I AM known to God – You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:17 (I probably could have posted the whole chapter, but you get the idea)

I AM valuable – “And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” Luke 12:7

I could go on and on finding verse after verse of God’s truth and just how He has shown me over the last little while that I AM NOT what the world thinks or what the devil tries to put in to my head. That I AM more valuable and loved than that.

Simply Searching for Truth,

Jenna

Day 9: Author and Perfecter of our Faith

***Tonight we will be looking at Jesus. Who he was. Who he is. And how he can impact our faith.

 

 

I love Hebrews chapter 12. It has been such an encouragement to me, especially since we started our journey to Costa Rica (and since then as well). Tonight I want to look at part of this passage, verse 2 to be specific. 

“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” (NLT)

Jesus is our perfect example of how to live a holy life. He was perfect. And what a better standard to live up to? Obviously we are not perfect, because we have sin in our lives, but we can still strive to be the best person and Christian in the world. 

The reason this chapter (and verse) have meant to much to me starts with that first line, “keeping our eyes on Jesus”. Doing a missions trip will always change your life, and in ways you will never expect it to, and during this past summer my life was and will be forever changed. I learned things about myself and found out how God could use me. However, it was a really challenging experience and keeping my eyes and focus on Jesus helped me through it all.

By keeping our focus on Jesus, we have the perfect example of how to live and how to be in relationship with other. In doing this we live like Jesus. He is the author and perfecter of our faith. 

I want to finish off tonight with this same passage (adding in verses 1 and 3) but in The Message translation. I think it is a perfect way to end the night.

“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!”

Simply,

Jenna

 

Day 8: Alpha and Omega

“I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.” Revelation 1:8 (NLT)

There are so many things about God that just blow my mind. And so many things my tiny, human brain just can’t even grasp (despite how hard I try to understand them). 

Time in relation to God is just one of the things that I find so hard to understand. 

In our world today, time dictates everything we do. We live our lives by the clock. So many of my nights are spent dreading waking up (I LOVE to sleep), and when I am awake I count the hours on the clock until I can go back to sleep. My life is planned and organized around our toddler’s schedule. I try to keep our days at home simple, and yet the concept of time always creeps in. 

Because we live under the rule of time, our lives become very hectic and fast-paced. People with jobs are always under some sort of deadline, there are meetings and projects and a set amount of time for lunch, etc. 

What would our world look like if we did not follow the clock? Or if we followed God’s idea of time?

It would be Heaven. Literally. 

In this passage in Revelation, God tells us that He is beyond time. He was, and is, and has always been. He existed before the world did, before time was really a thing. 

God is also telling us that even though we are so focused on this whole time thing, we need to realize there is one part of time we don’t know. One date on our calendars that we will never have written down – His return to earth. 

He is coming to save us and to give us a new life; our eternal life and home. This statement from God happens in the beginning of the book of Revelation, and He is telling us that He is coming AND SOON! That is a concept I can understand!

Even though I do live by the clock and calendar and the concept of time, that is not what drives my relationship with Christ. And even though it is hard for my human brain to really understand God’s idea of time, I know that His promise of coming back is true. 

Simply Waiting,

Jenna

 

 

 

Day 7: My Foundation

Our Pastor has just started a great series called “The 7 Habits of of Serious Christ Followers”, and this past Sunday (yesterday) we talked about Habit #1: Daily Devotions.

Every time I hear a sermon on this very subject, I am reminded of how awful I am at remembering to do my devotions daily. I feel so convicted, I make a promise, I do them steady for a week or so, and then life gets in the way.

Are you like this too?

This is one of the reasons I decided to do this 31 day blog challenge, so that I was forced to daily (or almost daily) open my Bible and read it. And to ask God what to share/what He wants to lay on my heart, and think about it for more then a minute.

Our Pastor made it so very clear that without spending an adequate amount of time reading the Bible, praying and listening, our relationship with Jesus would never grow. Just like a friendship or marriage here on earth, without these things they wouldn’t exist.

Today I wasn’t sure what to write about, my brain has not been working very well this past week. Then it hit me: A relationship with Jesus Christ is what being a Christ Follower is all about (that and making disciples), and He is our firm foundation.

Isaiah 28:16 says this (and I love this verse), So the Lord and King speaks. He says, “Look! I am laying a stone in Zion. It is a stone that has been tested. It is the most important stone for a firm foundation. The one who trusts in that stone will never be shaken.”

The one who trusts in that stone (being Jesus) will never be shaken.

God has given us His most precious thing (His one and only son – John 3:16), and this son (Jesus) is what we are to build our lives on. When we trust in Him, when we build our lives on His foundation, we will never be shaken or moved.

The verse says that Jesus has already been tested and tried and He has defeated sin so we wouldn’t have to. How awesome is that?!?

Now that’s the kind of stone I want to build my life upon.

Simply,

J

Day 6: Comforter

There is nothing I like better on a Saturday morning than sleeping in and staying in my bed, wrapped in my comforter watching a movie or just being lazy all day.

It has been a long time since I’ve spent a Saturday like that. Being married and having a toddler doesn’t allow for many lazy days like this. However, my husband was a Saint this morning and I am doing just this! I got to sleep in today, watch movies and just be lazy.

The best part of days like this is being warm (especially since winter is on the way), covered by my comforter and feeling safe.

If only the blanket on my bed could be there for me all the time, help me out in times of need and not just when I need to stay warm.

Jeremiah 8:18 says this, “Lord, my heart is weak inside me. You comfort me when I’m sad.”

My God has been with me through everything. During the times when I scraped my knee as a little girl, He was there. When I struggled through high school and university, He was there. During our first few years of marriage when life wasn’t awesome, He was there. When we lost our baby a month ago, He was there.

He is the best comfort I have ever had.  When I cry, He wipes away my tears, when I am lonely His arms wrap around me and when my heart breaks, His heart also breaks. Just like Jeremiah 8 says, the Lord will be beside me when I am weak and sad.

Let God be your comforter, today and always.

Simply,

J

 

Day 5: Listener

God has been teaching me something this week.

I am a bad listener.

The saying, “You have one mouth and two ears, so you should listen twice as much as you speak” has been playing in my head this week. I have been struggling with the fact that I have had little to no voice for about 4 days now, and it has really changed my perspective on how I do things.

At first I was upset and frustrated. I couldn’t communicate with our 2 year old daughter and writing things out for my husband to read just took way too long. I had to rely on other people to do the talking for me. It was SO frustrating. After a few days I learned to adjust and deal with the fact that I couldn’t talk, and things became easier.

This is how God had to get my attention. I was so busy and distracted with life, being a wife and mother, and being a friend that I forgot what should be my number ONE priority.

God has been teaching me that I need to “stop, slow down and pay attention to Him”. I thought I had been doing a good job of this, but I was wrong. God wants more of my attention and time, more than I had been giving Him.

So how am I going to change? Who is going to teach me how to listen? The ultimate listener, that’s who.

“I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” Psalm 116:1-2 (NLT)

God can hear us when we talk to Him. He listens to us whenever we need Him. He takes the time to hear our prayers and petitions. And that is what a good listener does.

The Lord has taught me this week that I need to be a better listener, both with Him and with the people around me.

Simply Listening,

Jenna

Day 4: My Provider

Here is a song that has been stuck in my head for the past few days

(Italics added for emphasis):

Jehovah Jireh
My provider
His grace is sufficient
For me, for me, for me
Jehovah Jireh
My provider
His grace is sufficient for me

My God shall supply all my needs
According to his riches in glory
He will give His angels
Charge over me
Jehovah Jireh cares
For me, for me, for me
Jehovah Jireh cares for me

God is constantly reminding me, and my husband, that He is our ultimate provider. He will take care of all of our needs, no matter what they are. What we need to remember is that our timing is very different from God’s. Our world has become very faced-paced and selfish, we want things RIGHT NOW! God does not work this way or in our own time frame. He knows when we need things, how often we need them and just how to get them to us.

“Then they will learn that you alone are called the Lord (Jehovah), that you alone are the Most High, supreme over all the earth.” Psalm 83:18

So I guess we are kind of knocking off two names today – Provider and Jehovah (since it was in the song).

Our God (Lord, Provider, Jehovah – whatever name you want to call Him) is what the writer in this Psalm says, “supreme over all the earth”. He knows and rules over the whole earth, which means that He takes care of what belongs to Him. He knows how many hairs are on our head (Matthew 10:29-30), which shows me he cares about everything in my life. Even down to the very tiny details.

Finally, I will leave you with this passage from Luke. I am constantly worrying about the “next” things in our life (the next grocery shop, the next time we can buy clothes or diapers, the next bill coming up), but I shouldn’t be, because God, my Provider, is already taking care of my and my needs (both big and small).

“Has anyone by fussing before the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? If fussing can’t even do that, why fuss at all? Walk into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They don’t fuss with their appearance—but have you ever seen colour and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them. If God gives such attention to the wildflowers, most of them never even seen, don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out. You’re my dearest friends! The Father wants to give you the very kingdom itself.” Luke 12:27-32 (The MSG)

Simply Yours,

Jenna

Day 3: I AM

Moses was not your typical leader. He was not an eloquent speaker and he did not have much confidence in himself. When God told Moses about the job He had for him, Moses replied with this, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11 NLT).

I often feel like this, with small tasks and with large ones. (And I know for a fact my tasks are not any where as BIG as standing up to Pharaoh, leading approximately 1-2 million people across unknown land in to a place where I have never been.) God will lay something on my heart or nudge me to use my gifts, talents and time, and my automatic reaction is “What? Oh God you must be joking, there is no way I could do that. I am not smart enough, talented enough, etc. to do this task you have set before me”.

Just this past year I said this exact same thing to God and over the next few months I could just hear Him laughing at my silliness (in a nice way of course). My husband was approached by our lead Pastor to start a church planting devision in our church. When I first heard this, I just could not imagine our family doing this. We are not financially able to travel the world, we don’t know any language besides English, we wanted to have more kids and doing this would interrupt my plans for future babies, I could go on and on about how doing this just “wouldn’t work”.

This past summer God took me out of my comfort zone and showed me to trust Him as I AM, just like He asked Moses to.

God answered, “I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain…I Am Who I Am. Say this to the people of Israel: I Am has sent me to you.” Exodus 3:12,14 (NLT)

God spoke so clearly to me to let my worries and my doubts fall away, that no matter what I go through I AM (He) would be with me always.

As I was thinking about what to write about today, and something else came to me. We use the phrase “I am ________” and fill in the blank with things we are (what we do for work, what hobbies we have) and God wants us to remember Him for what He does and who He is as well. So I thought I would share some that I need to remember daily:

I AM loving

I AM caring

I AM compassionate

I AM generous

I AM just

I AM all-knowing

I AM perfect

I AM your God

I am simply,

Jenna