One of the greatest things about living in Florida is that you never have to winterize or garage your toys. Being in coastal central Florida is even better as we get to experience some of the chilly weather while it stays generally mild all winter long. This is some of my favorite times to get out on the bike since we relocated.
That being said, there is undoubtedly a bittersweet heartache us transplants feel this time of year. For us, Christmas means snow and frost, roaring fireplaces and foggy windows. Its toasty gloves and cozy hats while you play in the snow and then sweetened by mama's hot chocolate that warms your hands and your heart. I'd be lying if I said I don't miss it up north this time of the year. What I'm learning is that in order to make it 'feel' like Christmas down here we gotta go big with decor, ramp up attending holiday-themed events and maybe even crank the thermostat down a few degrees (JK...kinda).
In the midst of all the extra effort and the busyness of the holiday season, it's easy to begin to lose sight of what's really important. The holidays are a time of giving, of kindness and mercy, of gentle reflection, peace and time spent with family and friends. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year for many of us. For others, the holidays can be a time of great pain. Those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, who are imprisoned or enslaved, are impoverished or struggling with loneliness, homelessness or are estranged from their family, this time of year is especially dangerous.
As the Body of Christ, we should be especially mindful of this and make every effort to ease this pain and share what we have been blessed with with as many people as we can, not just at Christmas but always. None of us can do everything but we all can do something. There are tons of organizations that offer relief, shelter, counseling and gifts this time of year for those that reach out and supporting these organizations financially is awesome, but there's just something special about giving your time and your own effort. I love shopping for kids who wouldn't otherwise wake up to anything special under their tree. I love gifting a pair of clean socks or a change of clothes and toiletries to the homeless people in my community, (You wouldn't believe how many of these dear ones cry over a cup of coffee or a hot breakfast or clean socks!) I love sitting down to a meal with those who feel society has rejected them and showing them the love of Jesus while reminding them of who they are to their Father in Heaven. These are some of my best memories and I pray the Lord gives me more chances to be His hands and feet in the coming year.
If you are reading this and have never heard the gospel story, Christmas is a great place to start. It's a time where most of the world stops and celebrates the greatest gift ever given. The precious gift the Father lavished on us...Himself. He sent His only Son, Jesus to live the life we could never live and die the death we all deserve. During His time on the earth, Jesus felt all of the pain and suffering, weaknesses and temptation that humanity experiences and He conquered all of them. He provided not only an example of how we should live but a way to do it! Redemption, restoration and reconciliation to our Creator and the power to be triumphant over sin and death as we live eternally with Him, leaning on the power and abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. If you want this incredible gift for yourself, its free and you don't have to wait until Christmas morning to receive it. If you want to know more, PLEASE email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . It would be my honor to share this gift of salvation with you this holiday season.
I recently read a quote by an American artist and writer from the mid twentieth century named Agnes M. Pharo. She said, "What is Christmas? It is the tenderness of the past, courage for the present, and hope for the future." This is the gospel when you view Christmas through its true lens, the savior who is Christ the Lord! Jesus meets you where you are, has mercy on you and loves you so tenderly like only He can, forgiving you of your past mistakes. Then, He steps in and gives you everything you need for life and godliness empowering you to live a life where you can one day step into eternity with a blessed assurance of eternal life in Heaven with our great God and all the saints who have gone before us! If that doesn't get you excited I don't know what will!
So what does Christmas mean to you? Are you heading home for the holidays or do you prefer to vacation this time of year? Do you have a favorite tradition or recipe you'd like to share? Or maybe a need or a prayer request that we can bring before the Lord together. Comment beIow or email me! I can't wait to connect with you!