“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13b-14
“And what happened then? Well, in Whoville they say that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day. And then the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of ten Grinches plus two.” Dr. Seuss
- Remember to call your prayer partner today. Pray over your Christmas celebrations, your guests, the work you have left to do, and whatever else comes to mind.
- It’s time to meet with Jesus! He is the One who gave all He had so you can have the great hope of a rich life. Grab your Bible, journal, a candle, and something hot and delicious to drink and go to the place where you meet with your Savior.
- Read Philippians 3:13b-14, Psalm 9:1b, and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 slowly and out loud. Write these powerful verses in your journal. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart today.
The Memories Are All That’s Left
I’m sad to say it, but last Christmas season, my husband and I had way too much “Grinch” (our hearts were three sizes too small), and way too little of the “good tidings of great joy” that is supposed to come during the Christmas season. We were simply stressed out and super tired, which we all know is a recipe for discord in any marriage. Preparing for Christmas is a lot of work, especially for the woman of the house, and I felt disappointed and sad.
The good news is that when I awoke on December 27th, God began a work in my heart. I repented and asked God to help me remember the good times and not dwell on anything that recently went wrong. My hubby and I talked about our bad attitudes and told each other we were sorry. We then started naming the blessings God had given us and all the ways He had answered our prayers. We finished our time together with a moment of prayer, thanking God for His goodness and our fun memories. The words of Psalm 9:1 came alive in our hearts.
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. (Psalm 9:1 ESV)
Yes, God has been good to us. Through thankfulness and focusing on the good, our hearts began to feel lighter as we reframed our memories from that Christmas. Now when I look back, I remember the sweet moments of our family playing games, laughing, and enjoying one another’s company, and celebrating the birth of Jesus together.
Reframing a memory with the help of the Holy Spirit is one practical way we can “Be joyful always, pray at all times, be thankful in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18a GNT). Reframing doesn’t say the event never happened, it just causes us to notice the goodness of God, no matter what we’ve been through.
I have heard that the process of reframing is similar to changing the frame on a picture. The picture is still the same, but the frame around the picture is different. Simply put, your situation hasn’t changed, but the way you look at that situation is different. When we change our view of a painful situation, it helps to heal our hearts, which leads to a more joy-filled and content life. Life will never be perfect; it will always be a mixture of good and bad.
One last thing: it’s important to remember we have an enemy who hates Christian families and will do whatever he can to cause division in yours. He will try to get you to harbor bitterness and unforgiveness in your heart against someone you love and wants your memories of time with family, especially at Christmas, to be tainted with thoughts of disappointment and feeling offended from something someone said to you. Ask God to help you reframe any memories you may have and to forgive. Pray with a friend and then ask for accountability any time you start to complain or gripe about someone or something that happened.
What will you choose to remember about this Christmas?
Blessings and Love,
Questions to Ponder
- Before Christmas week begins, write the answers to these questions in your journal:
1. What has been fun about your Christmas season so far?
2. Visualize your Christmas. How would you like it to go? Since you can only change your attitude and not anyone else’s, write down how you want to act. For example: “This Christmas, I will prayerfully be kind and patient. I will laugh a lot and be fun to be around. With God’s help, I can do this!” Review this several times before the big day arrives!
- After Christmas is over, write the answer to these questions in your journal too:
1. What was challenging about this Christmas? Do I need to seek forgiveness from anyone?
2. Who could use an encouraging “thank you” from me? Send this ASAP!
3. What are my top 3-5 fun memories from this year? Ask your kids this same question. Read these aloud once each day until January 2nd. This will help you and your family to reframe your memories and begin storing up many decades of a beautiful life in your heart and mind. Pray a little prayer of thanksgiving for the sweet memories of your Christmas this year.
Remember what I call, “The Danger of the Last Day.” Just like Satan came to tempt Jesus after He was hungry, he will tempt you and your family to get angry or bitter when you are at your lowest and most tired. If you have been traveling, you and your family are out of routine and the kids can be grouchy. A family member may choose to be critical of your tired wee ones, and you may become offended, which can taint even the most festive of Christmas celebrations. Pray this simple prayer, “Come, Holy Spirit,” several times during the day if you have to, and ask the Lord for extra grace to be kind and sweet to your family.
If you are hosting, you might be like I was this Christmas – so tired I could hardly make it until 9:30 at night. I was very vulnerable to tears this Christmas simply because I was tired. Give yourself the rest you need. Take a nap, or maybe go for a brisk walk to get your blood pumping.
Even though it’s Christmas and we have lots of treats around the house to tempt us, try a green smoothie with plenty of spinach but also delicious blueberries, bananas, and strawberries, and some sort of nutritional boost. Take care of yourself, mama. If you don’t, who will?
I remember going into my daughter's room night after night and kneeling beside her bed and crying my heart out to God because I didn’t know how to be a Christian mom; I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. You know what? God is so faithful! He answered me and simply said, “Spend time with me, Deb.” And so I did. I began arising 15-30 minutes earlier each day so I could read my Bible and pray, and plan out my day with my family.
If there was one thing I would love to share with you is that God is personal and loves you as you are. You don’t have to be perfect to be loved by our amazing God! Come as you are! His loving presence can be practically known and experienced. He is not a God who is far away, He is near and easily found. He longs for you to come to Him!
Deb is married to her soulmate of 28 years, Randy. They have two grown children, Christie and Jack, and one precious, answer to prayer son-in-law named Alex.