Losing weight, eating healthier, exercising more, saving more….these are typical resolutions in an average year as we turn over a new calendar. However, after living through and surviving 2020, making such changes don’t seem quite as pressing. They are things of a physical nature. While we all want to continue to be healthy and keep saving for the future, our concerns should shift to our mental and spiritual state as we continue to battle the pandemic and changes in our country as a result of the presidential election outcomes. I think praying more, reading more of the bible and putting scripture to memory should be at the top of the list.
One of the most treasured gifts I received for Christmas was a jar filled with scripture verses. It is a jar of blessing. I could choose special moments to read the verses, like when I am feeling down or need a bit of encouragement. I decided to end 2020 and start the new year off by reading a verse a day and putting those verses to memory. I began by reading slowly and meditating on a verse each day. You know what is amazing? The first three verses that I removed from the jar were about the steadfast love of God? It is no coincidence as I know that God is speaking to me about remaining unwaivering in my faith no matter what 2021 holds. I hope these verses are an encouragement to you and inspire you to press more into God throughout the next year whatever we face.
Psalm 33:4-5 For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.
Psalm 52:8-9 But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly.
Psalm 33: 18 Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love.
Sing songs of praise and carols, as worship to our Lord and the newborn Christ, who came to save us and the world from sin. Put up wreaths representing unity and candy canes in the shape of a shepherd’s hook or J with red and white stripes representing the blood of Christ and his purity. Red berries also represent the blood of Jesus and holly represents the crown of thorns in the spiked holly leaves. Light candles and twinkle lights for the advent season and to celebrate Christ, the light of the world. Exchange gifts as you remember the best gift of all that was given by our heavenly father to us through his son.
In an excerpt from a Yahoo search for the meaning of Christian Christmas symbols, the following is a description of why we should put up evergreens.
“…evergreens symbolize perseverance and resiliency to adversity. They remind us of Jesus’ words, “The ones who persevere to the end shall be saved.” Our faith must remain vibrant in all spiritual, economic, political, and social environments. “
Let the doom and gloom of 2020 melt away. Let this Christmas spark in you renewed hope as you meditate on the great love that your heavenly father has for you by sending his son, Jesus to the world.
I have begun decorating my house for Christmas the earliest ever this year. I always vowed before that I would never bring out Christmas decorations, play carols or watch holiday movies before Thanksgiving. I never want to skip over or rush through Thanksgiving as it is important to set aside time to honor God and contemplate His faithfulness throughout the year.
2020 has been a difficult year, like no other. At times, it has left me feeling very discouraged and hopeless because of the chaos going on in our nation. I want to find relief for my heavy heart so I am giving myself permission to celebrate and do things differently this year. To find a sense of joy in the midst of all the doom and gloom I have begun bringing out seasonal decorations to bring some cheer to my home for our family gathering at Thanksgiving. Our Christmas tree will be filled with some fall and Christmas colors to blend and transition from autumn to winter. The greenery and lights will make things feel more warm, cozy and festive.
I think others share in this same sentiment. I have noticed neighbors bringing outside decorations early to uplift their own as well as others’ spirits during this very dark season in our nation’s history. Perhaps we need a little Christ-mas to help us remember happier days and to remind us to keep staying thankful.
A strange thing has happened at my house this last week. I have noticed two wrens nestled on either side outside the window of my banquette. It has occurred twice just around dark. I first noticed something small, brown and fluffy in the window as I was doing dishes. I can see this window opposite my window above the sink.
When I first spied them, I ran to get a flashlight so that I could make out what it was. With a bright spotlight focused on the ledge, I saw two wrens huddled in each corner of the window. We have had stormy weather this past week from a passing hurricane in Florida but have had unusually warm temperatures for the first of November. The birds can’t be seeking warmth because it isn’t cold outside. Perhaps they are seeking shelter due to a change in the atmosphere with wind and rain from the storm.
My neighbor put up two fake owls outside her house on a window and on the deck railing the last few weeks. I have wondered why and have not had a chance to ask her about it. I figured since she has wooden siding that she is trying to scare away woodpeckers. Only, now I wonder if they are scaring other birds too. Are these wrens reacting to the fake owls that face my kitchen window and are within 100 feet of our house?
In the photo you can see the neighbor’s cat trying to make friends with the owl. Apparently, she is not afraid of the new additions to the house at all.
I wonder if these little creatures are here to stay and will become permanent nighttime visitors. I don’t mind. They are rather cute. I look forward to seeing them each evening. Perhaps there is a lesson for me in their visitation during a very unusual week.
This past week’s tumultuous presidential election has been very unsettling. The future of our country seems even more unpredictable and scary if we have more change with a new administration. The past year has been difficult enough with COVID, racial tensions, rioting and political unrest. All I can do is pray and continue trusting in God to save us, lead us and hold us up in the future.
These birds seem to have found a safe spot to cuddle where they feel secure. If there is an impending storm, predators both real or imagined, or an unwelcome change coming they seem to know just what to do. They hunker down when it is dark and hold fast until the storm passes and the light comes forth again.
Besides spending a lot of time in my home and out in my yard the last four months since life has changed, I spend hours each week driving around in my car. I take my mother out on “joy rides” to get her out of her condo on a regular basis. We are always on the search for sights that display beauty or bring us inspiration. Of course, it is all relative to how you choose to look at things. I try to choose uplifting and positive takeaways.
I have begun to see innovative ways people throughout my neighborhood and community are trying to encourage others. Even when we are not able to get out amongst people like we did before the COVID crisis, we can still send messages to one another to spread some goodwill.
Here is a sign posted in the front yard down the street from my house. It encourages me each time I drive by and reminds me to give my anxieties and cares over our current situation to God.
Yesterday, while driving with my mother, we discovered this “Happy Tree.” It must have been created by children. What a fun activity to decorate a tree with all things that make you happy. In the close-up you can see some college team logos as well as some candy wrappers. I love seeing ways for children to express themselves in a positive way.
While visiting Epworth By The Sea Christian conference center in St. Simons, Georgia, we found this prayer posted under glass inside the chapel. Heartfelt sentiments are expressed here that I could not articulate in regards to the tragic events around our country during the last few weeks.
We went for a family trip to the coast of Georgia this past week. It was refreshing to my soul to see God’s untouched and untainted creation. Sticking my toes in the sand was a pampering treatment that I have sorely missed. Watching crabs and birds scurry beside the receding ocean waves was amusing. It was good to laugh at them. Nature has a way of reaching down deep into our spirits and helping us commune with God.
We visited a beach with driftwood and gnarled upturned tree stumps. It was uniquely beautiful! A wedding must have taken place there before we arrived as we found a wilting bouquet of flowers amidst the debris.
While we were there, we visited a Methodist retreat center known as Epworth By The Sea. What a beautiful place! While here, one can walk through the grounds with serene Spanish moss draped oaks. You can read memorials to loved ones who have passed on after serving God through ministry. There is a small chapel where you can stop to pray. It was remarkable the number of prayer requests that we noticed were written on pieces of paper and piled in a box in the little vestibule. It was a sign to me of how much pain, discouragement and suffering many are experiencing right now. We walked around enjoying the view of the marsh when suddenly, the bells from the little chapel began to chime. Slowly, I began to recognize the hymns that were playing. The words from their refrains flooded back to my memory from childhood. “Faith of Our Fathers” and “Let There Be Peace On Earth” bellowed throughout the garden. It was a very special moment. I sang along with the chimes the very appropriate words for today.
“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be. With God as our Father, brothers all are we. Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony. Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now. With every step I take, let this be my solemn vow. To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally. Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me”.
I am a wife, a mother, a daughter and a sister. I am a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. I find happiness through caring for my family. They are my greatest gift in life. I also enjoy helping others who the Lord sends along my path. I have had ups and downs but through it all God has shown me that the greatest way to find joy on earth is through blessing others. With any gifts that He has given me, it is truly through giving those gifts away that I am fulfilled.