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Christmas and Advent

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5 Signs You May Be the Christmas Grinch

Christmas is upon us! Lights are twinkling from windows and yards. Inside our homes, Christmas trees are adorned with ornaments, ribbon, and strands of popcorn. Gifts are piled and ready to be opened. Christmas music plays softly in the background. The table is filled with tins of cookies and fudge, candies and nuts. You are trying to determine if you're ready to embrace the holiday or if you prefer to hide away in your cave above the chaos with a grumpy pout and a green, furry face.Yes. It's true. There's a possibility you are the Christmas Grinch.There are signs, my friend, signs that the grinchy-ness has infected you, and it's wise to look closely before you enter the family fray and destroy the happiness within.
Photo credit: ©Universal; used with permission.

4 Ways to Prepare Your Heart for Family Gatherings

"You bought off-brand soda? This stuff is disgusting!" My cheeks flushed when her words cut to my core.In a season when my husband and I were struggling financially, I brought less expensive sodas to our family gatherings. A decision I regretted the moment I was mocked for being so cheap.The mocking brought back memories of how my choice to become a stay-at-home mom slashed our budget by half. Steve and I were aware of the sacrifice we were making when I resigned from my job, but we had concluded it was worth it. However, I began to doubt our decision when it became the subject of discussion among our family members."If things are so tight that you have to buy cheap soda, maybe it's time that you go back to work," she said condescendingly.Feeling embarrassed and trying my best to hold back tears, I slipped into the kitchen to regain my composure. At that moment, I felt like shouting and leaving altogether. However, I knew that I needed to pull myself together and rejoin the rest of my family.I'm almost certain that nobody, except my husband, realized how deeply hurt I was. Even to this day, I have never spoken about that experience again.If you've ever gone home for the holidays and the visit didn't go as you had hoped - you're not the only one. And, if you're experiencing anxiety over your next family encounter, you––my friend––are not alone.The holidays are supposed to be happy, but sometimes angst and worry can steal all the joy. Don't let that happen to you!Are you dreading the upcoming holiday family gatherings? It can be tough to navigate different personalities and opinions. But instead of approaching it with fear and anxiety, why not prepare your heart with love and grace? Here are four ways to respond in a way that will bring peace and harmony to your family gatherings.
Photo credit: ©Getty/gorodenkoff

What Does Boxing Day Have to Do with Christmas?

Boxing Day connects to Christmas because it was the day of Christmas for many poor families. Most of them would receive a gift on the day after Christmas. It causes me to think about Luke 12:48b “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.”

7 Ways to Carry the Christmas Spirit throughout the Whole Year

What is it about this concept of the “Christmas Spirit” that is so easy to cling to every year? It is as if we all let go of our woes and our frustrations to try to make this time of the year fun, special, and purposeful. We get more focused on creating good memories, giving generously and focusing on Jesus’ life. However, this is not just an attitude and a life style that we should be having in the month of December. In fact, if we take some time to reflect and allow the Holy Spirit to convict our hearts, it is easy to see where we can often believe a lie that this mentality is just for this holiday season. Today, we will go through7ways to carry the Christmas spirit throughout the whole year.1. An Attitude of GratitudeI think we often forget that Thanksgiving precedes Christmas. Ponder this: we bathe our minds with intentional gratitude for a month ahead and then have such a positive attitude about the Christmas season. This is no coincidence; when we make a conscious effort to think about all of the blessings in our lives, it enables us to celebrate the goodness of God. How can we be more intentional with daily gratitude? Whether it is through prayer, singing, or journaling, we can continue the concept of thankful hearts.“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18Photo credit: ©GettyImages/evgenyatamanenko

How God Fooled Satan at Christmas

….the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age understood; for if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory– 1 Corinthians 2:8.This is a piece about Christmas, from a perspective you may never have thought of.First, bear in mind that there is more going on in this universe–above us, underneath us, in the spirit world surrounding us–than any of us can ever imagine.God is always at work. The hosts of Heaven are constantly serving Him in ways unknown to us. But we must not forget that so is His arch-enemy also at work, as well as his minions. Satan is constantly on the prowl seeking whom he may devour.We see this throughout Scripture.Now, Satan is the enemy is all that is good. Anything that would honor God, bless people, and spread the gospel, Satan works to sabotage.But God is not stymied by Satan. The Heavenly Father loses no sleep worrying about him. Satan’s doom is settled, his fate is sealed, his days are numbered.“On earth is not his equal,” said Martin Luther about the devil in His majestic anthem A Mighty Fortress. Granted, you and I are no match for Satan. But in Christ, we are more than conquerors. This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith in Christ. (Romans 8:37 and 1 John 5:4)God is constantly handing the devil defeat after defeat. We see it in life, we observe it in the world about us, and we can see it demonstrated in Scripture time and again.Photo Credit: ©Getty Images-/stop123

30 Christmas Gift Ideas for Grandkids of All Ages

There is nothing like the expression on someone’s face when you give them a gift that they are looking forward to enjoying. One of the hardest demographics to buy for is children because there are so many options. As a former daycare teacher, I’m a big fan of educational gifts that promote different developmental skills, as well as books and traditional toys. You will find a little of everything on this list.

4 Prayers for Peace and Joy This Holiday Season

If you are facing a difficult period or feeling overwhelmed by many tasks, attempt to seek a peaceful location where you can pray and have a conversation with God about your concerns. He cares about it all, the big and the small of this holiday season.

Hitting Heretics, Turning Tables, and Asking, “What Would Jesus Do?”

Legend has it that Saint Nicholas (theoriginal Santa Claus) slapped Arius in front of hundreds of bishops at the council of Nicaea. Why? Because Arius was actively promoting the heresy that Christ was only a created being—like God, but not one with him.In this tale of the kingdom of heaven suffering violence, Nicholas counters with a zealous violence of his own, memorialized not only inGreek iconography, but also in numerous memes that circulate online, especially during the holiday season.Speaking of provocative Christian memes, there isone funny example that states the following: “If anyone asks you ‘What would Jesus do?’ remind him that flipping over tables and chasing people with a whip is within the realm of possibilities.”The joke provides a good laugh. But, like many Saint Nicholas memes, it also introduces a question: how should we respond to false teaching and dishonest worship? Are followers of Christ to imitate him in all he does, including table flipping?Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/camaralenta

7 Lessons We Can Learn from Mary and Joseph’s Journey to Bethlehem

As Christmas approaches and we scramble to make last-minute preparations, some of us may become disheartened by the imperfect nature of things. There may be family strife, financial issues, or other things going on in our lives that make the holiday not ideal this year.Even though our Christmas may not look how we want it to this year, we need to remember that the first Christmas wasn't ideal either. Being in Joseph and Mary's shoes had to be very hard. Still, their faithfulness to God is inspiring and encourages believers. Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem was a journey that taught them many lessons, including believing in the Lord, trusting his plan, and trusting his provision.
Photo credit: ©Loaves Fishes; used with permission.

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