Today, author Sherry Gareis has stopped by to get our Christmas season started the right way. She asks some great questions we all need to consider. [And don't miss my newest giveaway!] Where in the CHRISTMAS is Jesus? Valid question, right? I mean CHRIST should be in CHRISTmas, shouldn’t He? THE NORM How do we usually show Jesus? Anyone own a ‘Jesus is the Reason for the Season’ pin? I have several and make no bones about wearing them during December. We display Jesus on our Christmas trees, right? I’ve got verses and nativity scenes on my tree. And how about on our Christmas cards? Isn’t that an easy way to share Jesus? Am I suggesting that pins, angels, and cards are bad? Of course not. Not at all! But are they enough? Could you be missing blessings?
I'd hurt her feelings, and she didn't want to talk to me. I gave her some time and space, yet a couple weeks later she still wouldn't talk to me. Our relationship felt irreparably broken. How can you heal a broken relationship? Should you always seek restoration, or does the Bible tell us that sometimes it's okay to walk away? And what if the other person refuses to talk to you about it? These are big questions, but important ones. Let's start with a more foundational one: How important are relationships?
Thanksgiving will soon be over, and you can breathe a sigh of relief. One holiday almost done, one more to go. This season brings out the worst in you: anger, depression, loneliness, bitterness. Your mind fills with the thoughts of what could have been, what should have been. If only . . . If you are in a fresh crisis, grieve. I want to make it clear that this post is not for those who are in the midst of a crisis. If you are coming out of a fresh loss, if tragedy turned your world upside down this year — give yourself grace. You do not need to have it all together with your happy face firmly planted for all to see this December. Instead, I'm talking to the person who thinks they have nothing to be grateful for. The person who faces a rough life, feels betrayed by a loved one, or stands between a rock and a hard place. The one stuck in a world of negative emotions because life hasn't been good or fair. While I empathize with your hard places and disappointments, I want to lovingly remind you of truth.
When I was a young warrior's bride, I knew little about military life. I was so naive, I didn't know what questions to ask the more experienced brides around me. I couldn't formulate my ignorance into coherent thought to even begin a discussion on what the future might look like. I have learned much over the years, through my experience and through the lives of dear friends. Military life no longer scares me, even though it occasionally troubles me. I don't fear for my active duty friends, although worry sometimes sends me into deeper prayer for them. Here at Fort Bragg, we are in a deployment cycle. To be truthful, because of the units housed here, we are always in a deployment cycle. One-quarter to one-third of the ladies who attend the military group at our church are in the midst of life while their spouse is half a world away. It's normal here. But that doesn't mean we are good about talking through it.
What if God (as in, it was unquestioningly clear that it was God) asked you to pack up and leave your family and friends? What if God asked you to fight for a people who were being devalued and mistreated? Did your heart and mind jump forward, ready to pack your bags? Or did you hesitate? Your heart just revealed your true beliefs to you. Deep in your heart, your are acting on one of these three foundations: 1. God knows everything and what He's asking is for my best, now matter what it looks like. 2. God only knows everything. But He either can't or doesn't care to control everything. 3. God doesn't really know everything. These are tough statements that I tend to wrestle with during those times when my life is interrupted with a problem or God asks me to do something I know I'm not capable of doing on my own. What about you?
Can you imagine accomplishing incredible things? Tackling the impossible, and succeeding? The Lord is with you, mighty warrior. Yeah, I'm talking to you. I want you to stop for a moment and consider how deeply you believe in incredible things? Not just me doing them, but you. This question is so important that it was one of the themes in my second fiction book, Ryan's Crossing. Can you imagine yourself accomplishing incredible things?
What would you think if I declared, "I'm an atheist." Don't worry. I've not lost my faith. According to dictionary.com, an atheist is "a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings." A supreme being, not the supreme being. In other words: I deny the existence of Zeus. That would make me an atheist to Zeus-worshippers. I disbelieve that Sun Myung Moon was the second coming of Christ. That would make me an atheist to the Unification Church. I suppose, in some sense, everyone is an atheist to someone. But I also think that some of us who claim to believe in the one, true God, really believe in a false god.
More time to do what you want. Doesn't that sound nice? I dream of reading more books, taking day trips with my kids, going out for homemade ice cream at a local farm and strolling among their animals. More dinners with friends, more writing time, more opportunities to volunteer. But when I look at my schedule and feel the pressure of my daily life, my dreams of more books and day trips and writing get pushed to the sidelines. How about you?
The Christian world is big on repentance and forgiveness—and we should be! We've all had impure thoughts, displayed poor attitudes, not controlled our tongues, and made a plethora of other poor choices. Each of us desperately needs forgiveness. But how should we react if someone repents? What would you think if a known drunkard asked Jesus into his life? What if the town brawler walked into church saying he'd changed?
I've been a coward, although not in the traditional sense, I suppose. As most of you know, a lot of shooting have been happening around our country. Yet my blog and social media have been completely quiet about all of it. As most of you know, a lot of shootings have been happening around our country. Intentional firings of weapons, one person against another person, sometimes for cause and sometimes for vengeance. Yet my blog and social media have been completely quiet about all of it. Friends have spoken up, posting different quotes, opinions, and videos. Some of those have been helpful to me, but largely I've seen them as divisive. Do I support one side or the other? Black or blue? What if I love both? How can I effectively communicate that without both sides hearing I'm not specifically for them?