Celebrating Christmas {In Opposite World}

Celebrating Christmas {In Opposite World}

“Christmas is simple…and complex!”

That’s what my pastor said this morning in church and I quickly jotted it down.

The baby in the manger.  Simple.

That’s God in the manger.  We get that. (well that’s complex to grasp but not the point of the post – so we move on! lol!)

But baking cookies, decorating, shopping, wrapping, attending parties, concerts and family get togethers –makes it all seem SO complex.

So I googled “How to have a Perfect Christmas” and I found this list on-line:

  • Enjoy the build up
  • Have a Christmas movie night
  • Read a Christmas book like “The Christmas Carol”
  • Shop on-line
  • Write a letter to Santa
  • Make a gingerbread house
  • Create a Christmas tradition like buy a new decoration or make a new treat
  • Get the best wrapped present award
  • Go ice skating, visit the most decorated houses in the area or go to a craft fair

There’s no birthday cake for Jesus on that list, but that should not come as a surprise as this is our chance to take Jesus to opposite world!  We are the light of the world!

Have you ever imagined what it would be like if you took the Christ child out of Christ-mas.  Since I grew up in a Christian home – celebrating Jesus as “the reason for the season” is all I know.  But for some of you – you came to Christ later in life and you know what it’s like to do Christmas minus Christ.

The world has mangled the meaning of Christ-mas.  They have cluttered it with a gazillion meaningless things to the point that we as Christians can hardly find the Christ child in the midst of our own mounds of toys and cookie trays!

And we are tempted to be self-indulgent. We want to have what opposite world has. But do we realize that all those magazines and pinterest pins void of Christ, add up to nothing. Their promise is fleeting.  There’s a momentary happiness that will dissappar at the strike of midnight on Christmas day and come December 26th –we will wake with a hollow feeling of guilt.

We must step out of this horrific dreamland marketers have tried to sell us, void of Jesus and be still with Jesus.

But here’s where we start to wade into opposite world’s waters…all the days of planning, purchasing, decorating, baking and wrapping can fill us with expectations this world can never fulfill.

One lost parking spot, one fight with your husband or one rude comment from a family member…and Christmas begins to unravel and become less than dreamy.  This less than dreamy reality serves as a reminder that all opposite world offers –is empty.

Movie nights, ginger bread houses and letters to Santa Claus cannot compare to the the joy that comes from knowing and walking with the King of Kings!

As Christ followers, we must not chase the next rainbow, the next high, the next good thing, rather than chasing our Savior – God – born in the manger.

Our Christmas must look different.

We must not miss Christ.

“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.”~Luke 2:6,7

Stop right there.  Where were the women in this story?  Where was the innkeeper’s wife? The innkeeper could clearly see she was expecting!  Why didn’t he call the mid-wives?  Where’s her mother-in-law?  The town was so full of people there were no rooms in the inn – yet this poor young girl gives birth with no one but Joseph at her side?  Where was the baby shower and new clothes?  She didn’t have baby clothes, so she wrapped him in cloths?

No one was mean to them…they just weren’t there!  Were the women too busy taking care of their own families?  Surely, taking care of our own families is a good and noble thing – but God was being born!  And they missed it!

How can we not miss Christ this Christmas?

Matthew 25:34-40 tells us:

34 “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.35 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, 36 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.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

There it is.  Giving, inviting, clothing, looking after and visiting…strangers, prisoners, the needy, the hurting around us.  Whatever we have done for someone we see in need –we have done for Christ.

This is what sets us apart from the “perfect Christmas” that opposite world offers.  The focus is not on us – the focus is on Christ.

Chime In – This Friday, I will share practical ways to keep Christ in Christmas.  But until then, *chime in* in the comment section and share – what are some ways your family keeps Christ in Christmas.  I’d like to include some of your thoughts in Friday’s post!

Walk with the King,

Courtney

A Radio Interview, Webcast Release, My Christmas Notebook, and a Bloggy Break

 

thanksgiving kids with indian

Ready or not – here come the holidays!   Thanksgiving first and Christmas right behind!  I am SOOOO excited!

I’m taking a real short blogging break for 2 weeks to clear my head and home for the holidays.  Last year I took all of December off but this year I want to spend the Christmas season with you!   I have a December Series planned that I pray blesses you and your family.

I will be poking my head back in with a few announcements next week regarding things happening in the blog-o-sphere including the Women Living Well Last Wednesday of the month Link-Up Party…but no content till December.

I will still be hanging out on all my other social media platforms -

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Youtube.

So please – follow and visit me there!

In the spirit of preparing for Christmas – I want to share with you my Christmas Planner/Notebook in case it can be helpful to you – I apologize that the ebook I reference in the video is no longer available – but if you are looking for more info about the binder  - go to the author, Karen Ehman’s webpage >>here<<.

 

Recently I did a 15 minute radio interview out of Montgomery, Alabama.
It was on Preparing Our Homes and Hearts for Christmas.
You can listen to it right here (there is only sound – no picture):


And because of the popular demand and high level of emails requesting that I make the Webcasts available sooner than the new year -

I have unlocked them out on my Youtube Channel.

Webcast youtube updateWhile I’m gone from here, I invite you to catch up on any webcasts you missed here:

>>CourtneyLivingWell<<.

They are all there, ready and waiting for you!

Merry Early Christmas :)!

 

Keep Walking with the King!

Courtney

 

Women Living Well – The book
is now available in most bookstores
and on-line at Amazon.com
3D wlwbook cover

 

Dreaming of a Sweet and Simple Christmas

10 tips for a stress-less holiday

Tracie Miles-6548-EditI am SO excited to introduce you to our guest writer today –  Tracie Miles from Proverbs 31 Ministries!
She is the author of Stressed-Less Living: Finding God’s Peace in a Chaotic World .

SLL Book Cover

 

Tracie writes:

Do the holidays stress you out? Join the club!

As moms and wives, it seems we take the brunt of the holiday pressure. Trying to make sure that everyone is happy, fed, and festive, in addition to the house being a holiday haven and making sure all the gifts perfectly selected, purchased and wrapped, can make even the most organized, calm and collected woman turn as nutty as a fruitcake.

Every year we all jump onto the holiday highway and speed up to ninety miles an hour until we turn the calendar over to a new year, while inadvertently letting our overall health slide along the way. Unfortunately, living in the fast lane of stress even for just a couple months, not only affects our emotional health, but it can affect our spiritual and physical health as well.  If we want to avoid letting the chaos of the season zap our energy and our holiday joy, we can intentionally choose Christmas peace over Christmas chaos.

Despite living in a culture focused more on the retail aspect of the holidays than the spiritual aspect of the birth of Jesus, we can choose to keep things sweet and simple by remembering to set our hearts right with Christ and intentionally planning to minimize our stress. Out of all the decisions we will face this season, this is one of the most important, and is a gift we can not only give to ourselves, but to our families and loved ones as well.

If your heart is dreaming of a sweet and simple Christmas this year, below are 10 tips to help you plan for a stressed-less and joy-full holiday.

Stand up for Christ.  Say Merry Christmas without worrying about offending someone. Standing up for our faith creates pride in our Savior, while being hesitant to acknowledge Him in an attempt to be ‘politically correct’ can sometimes cause pangs of guilt.

Touch your loved ones…. with a hug, a phone call, a personalized Christmas card, or a plate of cookies. Christmas is about the giving of ourselves more than the giving of gifts. And the gift of touch is priceless.

Release yourself from feeling obligated to be a holiday super woman. Over committing not only leads to burnout, but keeps us too distracted on the things, and people, that really matter.

Evaluate traditions. All too often we continue with traditions year after year, which may add additional stress to our holidays while not adding value to the season.  Consider changing or ceasing certain traditions that don’t seem to hold great value anymore to you or loved ones.

Settle grudges. Unforgiveness and bitterness can cause a great deal of inner turmoil and stress, especially among families. Pray about anyone you may have been holding a grudge against and ask God for the ability to forgive them. What better time of year for restoration of relationships than Christmas?

Simmer a delicious, aromatic hot beverage on the stove, such as hot apple cider, Russian tea, or hot chocolate. Seasonal fragrances can be like a soothing balm for a stressed out soul.

Laugh. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the chaos of Christmas, and forget the pleasure and enjoyment of a hearty laughter. Make time to watch some funny holiday movies, like Elf, Christmas With The Kranks, The Grinch, or one of your favorite oldies that simply make you smile.

Establish lists. A major stressor of the holidays is a lack of organization. Make a list of gifts to buy, social plans, baking to be done,  ingredients needed, etc., and then put them in order of priority. This allows you to tackle your to-do’s one at a time, without feeling overwhelmed.

Save money when possible and avoid shopping malls.  Rather than purchasing gifts based on convenience or feeling obligated to buy expensive trendy items, conduct on-line searches for the best prices, and look for one of a kind specialties instead of trendy items. Try to  focus more on the thoughts behind gifts, rather than the money in the gifts.  This not only prevents anxiety from holiday crowds, but also prevents the stress that comes with over spending.

Settle down for a long winter’s nap. Even Santa needs a break every now and then. Make time to relax this holiday season doing activities that relax your heart, soul, body and mind. Remember that even when holiday craziness is in full swing, Jesus offers calm in the midst of the chaos.  And when our hearts are at peace, our holidays can be too.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Tracie has two special holiday offers going on right now that I want to tell you about.

Tracie will be hosting two live conference calls in a Managing Holiday Stress Conference Call Series through Proverbs 31 Ministries (Nov 25 and Dec 10).   Click here to get all the information about how you can chat with Tracie and be proactive in avoiding the annual holiday stress trap this year!  She is also hosting several live Facebook parties with lots of fun giveaways, including sets of her conference calls, so click here to join the fun!

Tracie’s book Stressed-Less Living: Finding God’s Peace In Your Chaotic World would make a great Christmas gift for a loved one who may be looking for an answer to their chronic stress.   Each copy purchased through Proverbs 31 by December 20th will be personally autographed by Tracie. Click here to order.

Visit Tracie on her blog here>> http://www.traciemiles.com or on Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest.

GMG Christmas Devotional eBook has arrived! & Link-Up Party!

 

 

I’m so excited to announce our upcoming session on GoodMorningGirls.org !

It’s a 4 week Advent Study – Keeping Our Hearts Focused on Jesus,

It begins  November 26th!

We would LOVE for you to join us!

For this session we have written a FREE Advent eBook which will guide us through our 4 week study.

The {GMG} Advent eBook includes:

  • Weekly Devotions
  • Assigned Scripture Reading
  • Daily Family Activities
  • Recipes
  • S.O.A.P. Journal Pages

Our Advent eBook is available free to ALL subscribers at GoodMorningGirls.org. (so if you are already a Good Morning Girl – you should find the link at the bottom of your weekly emails.) 

Not a subscriber to Good Morning Girls yet? Not a problem! Click here to subscribe! (Note: Once you subscribe, the eBook will be listed at the bottom of your Good Morning Girls email the next time we write another blog post.)

Now before you email me to say that all you see is the Proverbs 31 ebook in your emails – that’s because you are looking at your “WomenLivingWell” emails – please subscribe to Good Morning Girls to get this ebook.  Why you might ask?  Because this study is not happening here - it’s happening over at Good Morning Girls – I’ll be over there! :)  (So not only will you get the ebook, but you will also get our daily devotionals, videos and extra resources to follow along during the Christmas season!  We don’t want you to miss a thing!)

You do not need a group to participate and there’s no enrollment for this 4 week session.  Just come as you are on November 26th as we blog along side your home study.

(And in case you’ve never met my high school BFF – here’s Angela – we made this video in our hotel room at Allume :) )

(Not seeing the video? Click here!)

Please feel free to invite your family and friends to join you for this upcoming study by sharing this image with them. You can post it on your Facebook pages, pin it on Pinterest, or upload it to Twitter or your blog! To save the image, simply right-click and select “Save Image As”!

We are so looking forward to you joining us this Christmas as we keep our hearts focused on Jesus, this Christmas season!

 Walk with the King,

 

 

If you have never taken the time to check out these other bloggers – you are missing out! The ladies that link-up below are amazing writers and creators and I just know that one of them is going to encourage you today! So you’re invited to come on in!

Join the fun, do a little blog hopping and don’t forget if you link-up below -please add the Women Living Well Wednesdays button to your post so your readers can find us here!

(Posts can include the topics of marriage, parenting, homemaking, homeschooling, finances, recipes, organization and more!)

 

 
To find the code go to the sidebar – or right click and “save as” the button and then upload it into your post! :)
 



My Christmas Planner – A Tutorial

Christmas 2011

 There are only 10 weeks until Christmas!!! Woohooo!

Last year, after reading the ebook “Untangling Christmas” by Karen Ehman and LeAnn Rice, I decided to make my own Christmas Planner! I LOVE having everything I need all in one place on the shelf!

My planner holds my to-do list, baking list, gift list, decorating list and thank you list along with my Christmas card addresses, recipes, traditions and receipts from purchases – all in ONE place! Not only do I feel organized for this holiday season but every Christmas season I can pop open my planner and reuse everything I have created from years past!

Here’s how it works (and some things I added that weren’t mentioned above)!

(If you can’t view this video click here)

Visit KarenEhman.com this week where she is giving away copies of this ebook all week long along with some other fun things like a retro apron, holiday cards, and Bath & Body Works lotions!

AND visit her co-author LeAnn Rice at SheCooks.org where she is also doing fun giveaways of the ebook all week long too!

 

Chime In: 

I can’t WAIT to start playing my Christmas music. When do you start playing Christmas music? I usually start it on November 1st so I’m just 15 days away! Do you have any tips on how to stay organized?

Walk with the King,