Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Blessings at Christmas

It's late, and everyone else has gone to bed.  Time for me to wrap Christmas presents!  I've had these presents picked out for awhile, but in the busyness of the end of the semester, I had no time to wrap them, so I needed to hide them in my suitcase until I got a chance to get to them without my family being awake. Since break started about a week ago, I have been spending almost all my time with my family.  I don't think it was until I got to college until I started treasuring every moment I can get with my family, which explains why I haven't had a chance to wrap presents until now!

After finally slowing down after the craziest semester yet, I'm remembering what it was like to relax and do things like read for pleasure or make a bracelet.  It's also given me time to reflect on what happened this semester that I loved and that was valuable, versus what wasn't valuable and didn't bring me any joy.  I am so thankful that I will be taking less credit hours and not as many accompanying jobs so that I can focus more on HeartSong, all my wonderful friends, and my Jesus, a person that I'm afraid has gotten a bit lost in the busyness of life.

A lot of our family time has been spent watching Christmas specials on TV. This is a wonderful family tradition of ours that I look forward to every year. But today I was noticing that most of the shows we've watched so far have been about Santa.  The "true spirit of Christmas" was always incorporated somehow: giving instead of getting, family values, and things like that.  But the tradition of Santa wasn't started by Jesus; it was started by a man who sought to give a wonderful Christmas to children who otherwise would have nothing.  And as great as giving to others and valuing family are, neither of these things fixes the problem of sin that this world finds itself in.

Now, the TV is off, and up above it is our manger scene, also a tradition in our house.  How often have I spent more time looking at the TV screen than I have looking just inches above it to the very reason that Christmas exists in the first place?  This is the whole reason we give and value our families, because God gave His Son's life so that we could be a part of His family forever.  Jesus came to earth as a descendant of David, but in that day no one recognized Him as King.  If the innkeeper would have known He was a King, he would have made room in the inn, but instead Jesus spent His first night on earth with animals and shepherds, sleeping in a bed of hay.  If my King can humble Himself like that, how much more should I, who doesn't deserve being treated as royalty, humble myself for His sake and for the sake of others!

And yet, I am so blessed!  I have two parents who are both living and together, a wonderful sister who was just accepted at Grove City College a few days ago, a warm house, plenty of food, and so many other luxuries that many people in this world will never know or understand.  I have a wonderful extended family and the greatest friends.  I am blessed with so many friends! And now, all I want to do is give.  All this extra money I don't need, let me give it to my sponsor child.  All this extra time I will have, let me encourage my family and friends.  All this stuff I have, it was never mine to begin with; let me give it away and share it with those who need it.  This gift of life, of being a part of God's family, who am I to keep it to myself?  Let me share it with the world!

Jesus came to earth as a baby, spending His first night here with shepherds instead of royalty, with farm animals instead of pets, in a manger instead of a soft cradle.  This was the way He wanted to do it, to humble himself, and to become obedient to death on a cross (Phil. 2:8).  He gave His life, and in His death conquered sin; then He arose, and in His rising conquered death! Now I can live in Him, enjoying these wonderful blessings that He gives and using them to bless everyone I meet.

Speaking of which, I must now wrap my blessings to my family.  Christmas is almost here, and I think it's time to take a break from this blog, too.  But don't worry; I'll be back in January with more about life in HeartSong.  In the meantime, may the peace of God be with you this season.  Merry Christmas!!

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