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An Unusual Christmas

26 Dec

As I type this, Christmas is over. I’m finally starting to feel better (can I get an Amen?). It’s storming tonight all over parts of the Southeast – the kind of storms that generate tornadoes. No one wants to face a tornado on Christmas Day.

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I can hear it raining from where I sit. I love the rain and even thunderstorms, but not “outbreaks” or “severe weather threats.” I hope it’s not as bad as they are predicting because there are people I love scattered all over the South and I worry about them.

This seems unusual weather for December – for Christmas. But then, this Christmas was unusual for a lot of us. Some of my family spent the better part of the past two weeks, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and are facing more days in the hospital dealing with a serious health crisis. A friend spent Christmas and the days leading up to it in the hospital with her mother who has cancer and virtually no white cells to fight the infection she currently has.

Some had to celebrate Christmas early or will celebrate it late due to family conflicts. People travel hours to spend what feels like minutes with those they love. No one can be in two places at once and in order to accommodate as many people as possible, changes have to be made. Change can be tough to swallow, but as my friend showed, when embraced, change can be just as good as the original plan.

In retail, our Christmases involve some serious quality time spent in malls before and after Christmas Day. Long hours, large crowds, traffic jams gallore, and slightly cranky shoppers can suck the Spirit out of the holiday if we allow it.

We had Christmas with Barry’s girls this morning and then went to work getting ready for tomorrow – the day after Christmas which has grown into a big shopping day for retail businesses. Our eating on Christmas was both wonderful, eh, and startling at the same time. For breakfast, Barry’s mom fixed a big “Nanny’s breakfast” (wonderful) before we opened gifts with the girls. For lunch, out of desperation, we ate at what I will allow to remain nameless fast food establishment (eh). It was my first, and I feel my last visit there. For dinner, we actually found several nice restaurants open for dinner only and shared a huge plate of nachos. They were delicious, but a little on the spicy side (startling); I’m pretty certain my lips actually chapped while I was eating! :)

I say ALL of this to say – is there anything traditional about Christmas anymore or has it evolved into “whatever works” for your family at the time? I’m thinking more and more people have to do the whatever works kind of Christmas. The keys are flexibility, faith, and fortune.

In order to survive holidays like this, you have to be flexible and enjoy whatever time you have with family whenever you can get it. Maybe it’s Christmas Eve or the weekend after or even in January. The day is not important. The people and spirit of the gathering is.

We have to keep faith at the forefront of our holiday. There really is no reason to even buy gifts, cook a meal, and get together with family or friends without the faith to believe that God sent His son to us as a baby in order to save us. Faith is key.

And no matter what happens or doesn’t happen, we have to remember how fortunate we are. If you have one person who loves you and whom you love, if you have food to eat and maybe the smallest of gifts under your tree (if you even bothered to put one up!), if you have a job that requires you work on Christmas – all of these are signs of good fortune, blessings, and things for which we should be grateful.

Blessings,
Rachel

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Merry Christmas! Christmas Scripture Reading – Day 25

25 Dec

We’ve made it to the end of our 25-Day Christmas Scripture Reading Plan. And what a great ending it is as we celebrate the advent of our Savior! I hope that by reading through these passages, you have been able to experience Christmas in a new and fresh way this year.

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Today’s reading is a little longer than most of the previous ones, so I won’t waste your time rambling on. :) Click on any of the links, below, to be taken to the passages at BibleGateway.com.

I want to thank each of you for joining me in this journey! It’s been such a great experience for me, and I hope it has for you, too. Merry Christmas to you and those you love! I hope your day is especially blessed.

Rachel

Christmas Scripture Reading – Day 24

24 Dec

It’s Christmas Eve! I’m hoping today that you get to slow down and drink in the enjoyment of Christmas.

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We’re almost finished with reading through the 25-Day Christmas Scripture Reading plan. Click on any of the links, below, to be taken to the passages at BibleGateway.com.

Today’s reading is one simple, yet very powerful verse. Chances are, this may have been the first verse you ever heard or memorized.

So much of what we do during the Christmas season is for others. We buy gifts for family and friends. We prepare delicious feasts for those we love. We volunteer and donate and give of ourselves to let others know how much we love them.

But maybe right now you need to be reminded of how much YOU are loved.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

If you are going through a season where you do not feel particularly appreciated, loved, recognized, or valued – this verse is for you. The God of the universe loved little ‘ole you enough to send his only son to earth to live and die for you. The truth is, you couldn’t be more loved than you already are.

I’m praying today that your heart senses how valuable and cherished you truly are.

Happy Christmas Eve!
Rachel

Christmas Scripture Reading – Day 23

23 Dec

Good Sunday morning! I hope your last Sunday before Christmas is off to a beautiful start.

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We are almost finished with our 25-Day Christmas Scripture Reading plan. Today is Day 23 and our assignment is to read Matthew 25. Click on any of the links, below, to be taken to the passages at BibleGateway.com.

I’ve always loved this part of Matthew 25:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.

Our challenge today is to keep our eyes open for someone who could use a word of encouragement, the gift of our time, or even financial assistance. Right now – at Christmas time – the smallest gift could mean so much to an overworked, exhausted waitress, salesperson, or friend. As you head out to church, sit down for lunch at a nice restaurant, or stop in the mall for a last minute gift, be aware of those around you who might need a dose of love.
Have a beautiful day!
♥Rachel

Christmas Scripture Reading – Day 22

22 Dec

I’m so glad you have joined me in reading through our 25-Day Christmas Scripture Reading plan! I’ve learned so much already and have really enjoyed taking a few minutes each day to really absorb all that Christmas means.

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Today’s reading is Psalm 100. Click on the links, below, to be taken to the passages at BibleGateway.com.

Before you get started with what may be a very busy Saturday, take a few minutes this morning to think about what it is that fills your heart with joy. Maybe it’s time with family, blessing someone in need, or the simple beauty of seeing the sunrise each morning. Let that joy sink deep into your heart.

Also, take a few minutes to say a prayer for someone you know who may be struggling to find their joy this Christmas. The families in Connecticut, for sure, are struggling this year and could use our prayers.

Hope your weekend is off to a great start!
♥Rachel

Christmas Scripture Reading – Day 21

21 Dec

Yesterday was kind of a hard day. I guess treatment on top of being sick was a lot for my body to handle and I was completely worn out by the end of the day. And this incredibly, ridiculously persistent cough will not leave me alone. Sigh . . . . Who cares about gifts? All I want for Christmas is a day without coughing. :) 

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Today is Day 21 in our 25-Day Christmas Scripture Reading plan. Click on any of the links, below, to be taken to those passages at BibleGateway.com.

Today’s reading is so short, there are no excuses for not reading it. {grin} In fact, it’s only one verse and I’m going to post it right here for you to make it even easier!

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. – John 21:25

The apostle John’s purpose for writing this book was to prove that Jesus was the son of God. John presented indisputable evidence of Jesus claims’, thereby proving the truth of who he was and is.

John 21:25 is the very last verse in the book of John. This verse points out that what we know of Jesus from the Bible is just a glimpse of who he was and what he accomplished.

The story of Jesus’ life is a massive one – one that would take up more pages in more books than could possibly be written. Your story is a part of his story, too. Your life is entwined with his and becomes a part of the greatest story ever told. That’s pretty cool, huh?

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I’ll leave you with another Piano Guys video today. This one is fantastic! This Carol of the Bells piece was written to be played by 12 cellos, but here is being played by one guy with one cello – it’s magnificent!

{If you are reading this in email,
you may need to click over to the blog to watch the video.}

If you are starting your Christmas travels this weekend – be safe and have a wonderful time!
♥Rachel

Christmas Scripture Reading – Day 20 + Treatment Update

20 Dec

Oh my gosh – we only have six days left in our 25-Day Christmas Reading Plan! I’m sad already. :( This also means we have only six days until Christmas – oh my!! :)

Yesterday’s treatment went well – didn’t have any complications other than a wicked crazy cough that’s come on strong since Monday. My monocyte count was up to 17.3 (normal range is 1.7 – 9.3), so it got flagged on the lab report with a yellow highlighter. Special!  I was concerned that would cause him to postpone treatment AGAIN, but it did not. My other counts were ok, most on the low side of ok, but still ok, so he was comfortable moving forward. He feels the count is connected to the infection I’ve been fighting for the past three weeks.

It is almost surreal to walk into the treatment center after being away from there for 10 weeks (even longer than usual because of the past two weeks getting postponed). As we walked through the doors, I could feel my heart rate quicken and a sense of anxiety sort of lay over me. I do a pretty good job most days of forgetting I even have to deal with cancer, but going there, seeing Dr. Daniel and then getting treatment makes it all so real again. It’s still good, though. I feel good (except for this stinking cough!) and I’m so grateful for my doctors, the fabulous nurses, and the drugs that are punching cancer in the face. {grin}

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Today’s reading is the first Chapter of John. Click on any of the links below to be taken to the passages at BibleGateway.com.

The striking part of this passage to me was the realization that Jesus was a part of God’s plan since the beginning of time. He wasn’t an afterthought or something God “threw together” to save the world, he was a plan. God always intended to send his son to save us, to offer us hope and grace and mercy.

You know what this says to me? God has my life planned, too. He doesn’t react to things in a haphazard way. He doesn’t swoop in and save the day at the last minute when all other options have failed. He has a plan for me and my future and it’s a good one.

The same is true for you. :) Your life was planned before you were ever formed in your mama’s tummy. Don’t think all your good days are behind you – there are PLENTY of great things in your future. God creates good, he plans good things, he is true to his word. Believe it!

Have a great day, friends!
Rachel