“And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.”
Luke 2:10 (ESV)

Ten years ago this month, one of my very best friends passed away. Losing her was a shock to my system and to her whole family. We’ve never known grief that deep or traumatic. Since then, we’ve struggled with the holiday season. We miss her more on Thanksgiving (her favorite holiday) and Christmas (a time of such joy shrouded by grief). We’ve lived with a toned-down Christmas for ten years. But this year I refuse to allow grief to steal the joy of celebrating Jesus. This year, I reclaim the Christmas season as a time to rejoice!

It doesn’t mean I won’t miss Jennie, it doesn’t even mean I’ve “gotten over” it…really who thinks they can get over something like deep, traumatic grief? You get through it, not over it. And there are sand traps the rest of your life that will catch you at unexpected times. So if you, like me, like Jennie’s family, feel the grief of loss pressing in, please know that you are not alone. And it’s ok if you aren’t ready to celebrate. But it’s also ok if you do celebrate (Guilt is a weird thing, don’t let it trick you. Don’t feel guilty for grieving and don’t feel guilty for healing.)

No matter where you are in life, whether on a mountaintop or in the deepest, darkest valley you’ve ever seen, I pray you will hear what the angel has to say. “Fear not!” Nothing can steal the gift that God bestowed upon us. No pain or grief can change the love that God showed us the day He sent His son to live on this earth. Jesus came and experienced life with us!

Imagine it. He felt cold, hunger, weariness, and yes, even grief. His earthly father died before He was thirty. One of His best friends died, and though He would raise him from the dead, He still wept! His closest circle of friends would betray and abandon Him. But still He came. Still He loved us. And Still He calls us His children!

These are good tidings of great joy for all people. He invites us all to join in His family, to share in His love, to experience His grace, and to abide in His presence. And so, He invites you during this season to celebrate His goodness and mercy. To rejoice in His comfort. To rest in His care. To weep in His arms. 

This year, reclaim Christmas from commercialization and simply celebrate Jesus. If you are up to it, let your rooms explode with Christmas joy in whatever way your heart yearns. If this year is too hard for a grand celebration, sit quietly with your Savior and simply let Him hold you. 

What does it mean to celebrate Jesus? For me, it means keeping my heart focused on Him. Decorating my room helps me do that simply because it looks different. I wake up and see Christmas; I go to bed and see Christmas before closing my eyes. Every time I walk in (and I work from home, so it’s more often than many people) I’m reminded that it is time to celebrate the birth of my Savior. 

Forget the gifts, Santa, elves, and all the rest. But decorations or no, through turmoil or rejoicing, simply remember that this season is to help us draw nearer to God. Do that and you’ll be celebrating Jesus. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you. It’s a promise, a gift that will come as certainly as that Baby who was born so long ago.

Father, thank you for sending Your Son into this world. Thank you for the gift of Your presence and for rescuing us from ourselves. Help us this month to focus on You and to celebrate the gift of Your love by worshiping You in Spirit and truth. Hold us close when life is too hard for us to celebrate and lift us up so we can share in your light during the dark seasons. Thank you for being our light and joy no matter what our circumstances may be. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Spread the spark of hope everywhere you go,

Michelle

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I want to follow Jesus! How do I get started?

“This is how we know that we live in Him and He in us: He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.
1 John 4:13-15

If you are ready to join the family of God, simply believe and ask. You can choose your own words or pray the prayer below. God hears your heart, simply confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and let the Spirit lead you.

“Father, I want to be yours. Forgive me of my sins. I believe that you sent Your Son, Jesus Christ, to die in my place. I accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior and thank you for the gift of salvation through Him. I invite the Holy Spirit into my heart and surrender my life to You. In Jesus name, Amen.”

Feel free to spend time just talking to God and sharing your heart with Him. Let Him speak to you and listen as He leads you forward into new life. Welcome to the family.

Need to talk or have questions? Feel free to reach out and contact me.