December 7 2015

The Magic of Christmas

christmasI have to admit, I love Christmas and I always have. I have many nostalgic memories of growing up and spending time with my family; which has always been my favorite part.  I always felt Christmas was a magical time and I wanted very much to believe that Santa and his reindeer were real. I was completely enchanted by the magic of Christmas: Santa travelling the whole world in one night to deliver presents, reindeer that could fly, waking up to a Christmas tree with presents spilling from underneath it and stockings full of candy, that magically appeared over night. Everything I knew about Christmas was magical – I knew very little of the story of Jesus and His birth because my family did not talk about it. I always saw the beautiful nativity scenes, but it meant nothing to me because it was not a story I knew well.

Christmas continued to be a magical and enchanting time for me, even as an adult. I continued the traditions of Santa Claus and an abundance of presents for my own children. I had to make sure that there were no presents under the tree until Christmas morning, as to recreate the tale that Santa actually came during the night. It was so important for me that they believe that it was Santa who brought the presents (with the exception of 1 or 2 special ones from my husband and I). I had them put out cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve, and reindeer food on the front lawn. I wanted to make the magic real for them, as it was for me. In my heart I wished still, that Santa was real, because how wonderful it would be if it was true. To me there was nothing like the magical tale of Santa on Christmas and the romance and grandeur of it all.

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

Luke 2:13-14

I loved everything about Christmas – the decorations, the lights, Christmas cards,  cutting down our tree and putting up stockings, Christmas carols, baked goods and pumpkin pie. What’s not to love, right? Only a Grinch doesn’t love Christmas! The traditions of Christmas were very important to keep up with my own children. The best movies were the ones that really showcased the magic of Christmas: Santa. Santa is a magical figure. He is all-seeing and all-knowing. He is able to make enough presents for every girl and boy in the entire world at his secret workshop hidden by magic. He has little elves who are also magical creatures to do his bidding for him. He has reindeer and a sleigh that can fly around the world. He can defy space and time. He never ages and never dies. Not to mention he can go up and down a chimney with little effort, and if there is no chimney he can still get into a house to deliver presents. You might even say Santa is god-like. Of course I never thought of Santa that way. I just loved the magic of it. Now that I have been exposed to the spiritual realm and the truths of God, I can’t help but see Santa in a whole new light.

When my husband and I became Christian, almost 3 years ago, I realized how wrong I had been about Christmas for all of my life. There is no magic in Christmas. That is a lie from the devil to turn us away from hearing about the beautiful love story that Christmas really is. God sent His only son into the world as a helpless infant. Jesus came into the world, not as God, but as a nobody, and chose to die to save us from death and hell. Satan wants to keep us from celebrating this wonderful miracle of unconditional love, and keep us focused on magic and greed. I taught my children to be very self-centered when it came to Christmas. It was all about how much they could get and if it was good enough. They didn’t care about anything else. I did them a huge disservice by keeping the focus on Santa and what he will give them, and they still struggle with it today.

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

Galatians 4:4-5

It is so hard because the world bombards children with messages that feed the gimme, gimme, gimme attitude. Toy ads come in the mail full of all the great things kids “need”, TV shows are all about getting presents for Christmas, commercials are more toy ads. And Santa is just another symbol of what presents kids will get, which fuels the greedy fires inside. It’s just as bad for adults. Adults are rushing around giving, doing, serving. Giving to the point where it hurts, even when they have nothing left to give. Taking on more and more service projects and tasks without time to stop and rest or take care of their own families. Buying more and more presents for friends and family even when they can’t afford it, because it’s the thing to do. The world takes something beautiful like generosity, and twists it to make it a counterfeit of God’s loving kindness. People are stressed out, exhausted and angry by the time Christmas is over, because they have burnt themselves out over doing for others in an unhealthy way.

The world sends a message about a Christmas that is about indulging yourselves and getting swept away in magic. But the spirit of Christmas is so much more simple. It’s all about Jesus. Jesus is the ultimate gift. A gift that far surpasses anything I will ever see under a Christmas tree. Our Father in Heaven is a good Father, and He loves to give good gifts. He loves us so much, that He was willing to part with His one and only Son, Jesus, who was living a wonderful life in heaven. Yet God asked Jesus to forsake all He had known and come down to earth to be with His children for a season. Then, at the end of that time, Jesus died a criminal’s death on a cross. What love is this, that would die for us? Love that would suffer and be humiliated, despised and rejected by his own people, all for us? That is True Love.

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.

Isaiah 9:6-7

And who are we that we deserved Jesus to come to earth as a helpless baby? No one. We do not deserve anything from Jesus, not one shed tear, not one drop of blood. Yet Jesus gave it all, because in His eyes, we are worthy. Yes, to our loving God, we are worthy to be loved. What an amazing miracle. What a beautiful picture of grace and mercy. You see Christmas is not just a story of Jesus being born; it is a story of our perfect redemption and salvation from the God who created us. I stand in awe and amazement at our God. His perfect love has bought us for all eternity. That is what Christmas really means.

It is just like the devil to lie. He steals, kills and destroys, and that is his goal for Christmas. It has worked pretty well for many people. I see many Christians, who are caught up in the magic of Christmas and Santa. It is a long-standing family tradition brought in by the world. They see no harm in the fun that Santa and magic bring into Christmas. After all, magic isn’t real, and neither is Santa. It is just a wonderful tale and all in good fun. No, God does not hate Christmas or trees or people who celebrate Santa, but He does grieve His children getting lost in the magic that Satan has turned Christmas into.  This is a counterfeit of the True Spirit of Christmas: Jesus.

Magic is real and it is a part of Satan’s grand plan to bring his realm into our homes. It harms our children, by teaching them that Santa can compete with Jesus for their affections. Santa is more tangible – you see him at the mall, on TV, on wrapping paper, decorations, and just about everywhere during December. Jesus is Spirit and often times children only hear about Him at church. Santa brings presents, magic, and fun. He has a magical tale being told year after year. Jesus story isn’t magical and can even seem quite ordinary to those who don’t understand  the deeper meaning of what Jesus has done for us. Children may hear the story of Jesus birth year after year and become desensitized to how valuable the message is, while the story of Santa can be told 101 ways and never grow old.

Magic is seductive because it appeals to our senses and our desire to escape into a world that dulls the pain and boredom we face. When we teach children that magic is OK, we are teaching them to explore a world that turns us away from God and towards pleasure and sensuality. Magic is very real, and all around us. People are turning towards it daily, through the occult and new age practices that are so prevalent. If we are not careful to lead our children towards Christ and value Him above all, then they are in danger of being led astray by the many lies the world has to offer. Satan does not come dressed as a scary devil with horns, but instead wrapped up as everything you ever wanted. Let us not forget the Israelite’s and how they stopped teaching their children about God, and the following generations all fell away and into idol worship and paganism. It is an important example to use now, as we celebrate Christmas.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:17

wisemenChristmas is a beautiful reflection of God the Father and His love and generosity. If we can keep the true Gift of Christmas in our hearts, I don’t believe it will offend God if you give your children gifts or put up a Christmas tree. I do think He would be hurt if you completely removed Him from Christmas, but Jesus is not so easily offended as we may think. He did not come and die so He could judge us, He came to give us freedom from sin and death and hell. The day will come when we are all judged before the throne of God. I would worry more about your heart and where you stand with Christ, then whether or not you celebrate Christmas. If you keep your intimacy with Him, the you will be right where He wants you to be. That is the deepest desire your heart so longs for. Come to God and give Him your life, your thanksgiving, your heart. Let Him show you His truth and cleanse you from whatever lies about Christmas you have been holding on to. He loves you dearly, and I pray this Christmas you are able to give Jesus all of you.

Christmas has a special place in my heart and I hope to be able to teach my children to see it the way I see it. For me Christmas is the light in the darkness. It is Jesus, the Light of the World. It is hope, freedom, redemption, love, peace, joy, generosity, and family. These are all things that describe our Lord Jesus. I have taught my children in the past that Christmas is all about getting and pleasure and magic. Slowly I am trying to rectify this and bring Truth into our home. For our family, Christmas has been redeemed, and it is all in thanks to Jesus for saving us. Thank you Lord, for bringing us out of darkness and into light!

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

1 John 5:11

November 23 2015

Is Christmas A Pagan Holiday?

ChristmasI grew up in a home where we celebrated a “traditional” Christmas every year. My parents and I would go into the hills and cut down a tree at a Christmas tree farm. We would bring it home and put it in the Christmas tree stand and then decorate it with glass ornaments, tinsel, colored lights, and a star at the top. We would meet with my grandparents and other extended family and share a meal and exchange gifts. My dad would put on a record of old Christmas music and I would sing along. My sister and I would wake up early on Christmas morning and wait for my dad to tell us we could come out of our room. We were giddy with excitement when we saw the beautifully wrapped presents under the tree, and the stockings filled to the brim with treats. I have many found memories of Christmas as a child. There is just something about the nostalgia of the traditions of Christmas that warm my heart.

It was not until I was a young adult and I became heavily involved in the occult and witchcraft that I changed some of my opinions about Christmas. I did not grow up as a Christian and I don’t remember talking about Jesus on Christmas very often. I remember a beautiful nativity scene my mother would set out every year, one that I would lovingly play with. I can’t really say whether I understood what the nativity was really all about. As a child there was more talk about the birth of baby Jesus being born on TV, so it was something that was a part of my small world. But I doubt the meaning of it registered with me, the way it does now.

As a pagan or witch, Christmas lost most of it’s meaning to me as I traded it in for Yule or Winter Solstice. As a pagan, most of the traditional holidays (except Halloween) were not celebrated or important. As I studied more about the ancient roots of paganism and the traditions that it brought into our world, I began to have more disdain for Christians. It turns out that Christians stole all of their holidays and celebrations from pagans. So the Roman Catholic church tried to take Winter Solstice celebrations, a deep and meaningful night of celebration, and tried to change it to celebrate their God instead. In doing so they hoped to convert the pagans to Christians. It wasn’t just Christmas/Winter Solstice they were trying to use to convert pagans, but also Easter. I was absolutely sickened by the audacity of these Christians. I had never liked them before because I found them judgmental hypocrites, but this just took the cake. As a pagan, the ancient roots of our ancestors were of the utmost importance to me. And I was determined to learn more about the truth of paganism so I could uphold these ancient traditions.

 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Romans 1:21

Winter Solstice is not actually on December 25th, so I did end up celebrating both, because my parents still celebrated Christmas. It was hard to completely walk away from Christmas without pushing away my family during that season. So as angry as I was about the Christmas rip-off, I still celebrated it, but knowing the truth of where it came from at least. Winter Solstice is a few days before, and it is the longest night of the year. It was a time to celebrate the birth of the sun god and the changes in the earth. The nights are long and the days shorter up until the Solstice, but now the nights would be getting shorter and the days longer. It was symbolic when paired with the birth of the sun god and the changes he brought to the earth. You light a Yule log and let it burn all night long, to represent the rising of the sun god.

As I got older and my life changed, I stopped actively practicing witchcraft, but did not stop my beliefs. I still reminded myself about the ancient traditions and roots of paganism and studied them when I had time. I still added in some practices where I could. But as my life changed in many ways, I gravitated more towards traditional Christmas celebrations again, to give my children the same traditions I had while growing up. I did teach them about Winter Solstice and some of the origins of it, because it was important to me. I wanted them to have an understanding. I never taught them about Jesus or His birth, because it meant nothing to me, except a lie to trick pagans. So when my husband and I came into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, you can see why I had some conflict about celebrating Christmas. I understood the pagan roots of Christmas and I had never used Christmas to glorify any god except the ones I previously believed in.

My husband and I prayed a lot that first year and what we took away was a great lesson. Simplify what we had been doing for Christmas. Which for us was huge. Previously we were going broke giving our kids gifts that we could not afford and glorifying Santa. We started teaching our kids about giving instead of receiving by supporting ministries such as Operation Christmas Child and Angel Tree and spent much less on our children. I was worried that we were doing something wrong by celebrating Christmas, especially after being so convicted about Halloween. I prayed fervently along with my husband and felt that God indeed wanted us to continue to celebrate Christmas.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

I have heard many Christians say that it is wrong to celebrate Christmas, because it is a pagan holiday. This statement in itself is not accurate. Christmas was never a pagan holy day. Yes, it is derived from a pagan holy day, but Christmas was never celebrated by pagans. Christmas  does have many traditions that are from pagan practices. But so do many other things we do in this world. For instance, did you know wedding rings are pagan? There is nowhere in scripture that talks about wearing wedding rings. This tradition comes from ancient Rome, as do many of the other practices of weddings we use today. Funerals are also pagan, and come from the ancient Egyptians. Flowers for the grace, embalming and more, and based on the belief that the body was going on into the afterlife. Our U.S. money has pagan symbols on it. Some coins have the goddess Liberty on them. Calendars are also pagan, as well as the names of the days of the weeks and months. Church steeples are also pagan in origin, coming from the phallic obelisk of fertility gods from ancient Egypt. And don’t get me started on the pagan idol worship in the Catholic Church. I could keep writing pages about the many things that we have adopted from paganism. It started back in Rome when Constantine the first Christian Emperor in Rome came into power and gave Christians the rights to freely worship God and believe in Jesus openly. Many pagan customs and traditions were adopted into Christianity and have stuck for centuries.

If we stop celebrating Christmas, because it is pagan, then what else are you willing to stop participating in because it’s pagan or rooted in paganism? You would need to leave just about everything in this world behind  and go live outside of society in the woods if that were the case. It would be impossible to completely remove paganism from our lives. The point is not to remove paganism from our lives, but to walk with the Spirit of God, letting Him teach you what His will is. Yes, there are many things in this world we need to remove from our lives, such as TV and media that promotes violence and sexual immorality. That is truly more offense to the Spirit of God then celebrating Christmas. I have also seen the Hebraic Roots movement where they teach not to celebrate Christmas, but to celebrate Hanukkah instead. Hannukkah is not a Biblical mandate and we are not Jewish, so there is no reason that we need to trade in one for the other. If you want to celebrate Hannukkah over Christmas, that is your choice, but don’t do it with the idea that you are glorifying God in one more than the other. We are told to live as sacrifices to God, and to glorify Him in everything we do. We are also told not to make another brother stumble by our judgments of each other. If a Christian celebrates Christmas and glorifies our Lord Jesus in this way, then who are you to tell them they are wrong and practicing paganism? We are to live in unity and peace, and to encourage and love one another.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

Romans 12:1

This brings me to the next argument from the opposite side, that it is OK to celebrate Halloween, because it is a perfectly innocent and fun day and it is no longer pagan. Please do not compare Christmas and Halloween. That is like comparing a murder to a birth. They are total opposites. Halloween is a not just rooted in paganism, it is actually a high holy day for Satanists and witches. Christmas is not a holy day for pagans, but simply another day on the calendar to them. Halloween is a time when witchcraft is at an all time high, and human sacrifices are being performed. It is a celebration of death and evil. Christmas is not about any of those things, and neither is it’s counterpart, Winter Solstice. Much like Christmas, winter solstice celebrates light, hope and joy – except it is just misconstrued into a celebration of false gods and earth worship. Although during December there is a higher level of witchcraft than some other times, because of the witches celebrations and rituals during this time.

So this begs the questions, is Christmas evil, and is it wrong to celebrate it? No, Christmas is not evil. There is nothing evil about the day of Christmas or any of the pagan traditions that come along with it. It is a day where families get together with love and gratitude and exchange presents. It is a season where people are geared toward serving others and are willing to open up their pocket books and give to the needy. Compassion is at an all time high and we open our doors to friends and neighbors who would otherwise be alone on Christmas. We spend an entire month focusing on doing good for others and spreading love and joy. Of course there is always the other side of commercialism, but that doesn’t take away from what you can do with Christmas. This isn’t the time to say, what can Christmas do for me, but instead, what can I do for Christmas? I can use Christmas to honor my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I can humble myself and serve those in need around me. I can reach out and give even when I have little. I can talk about the Good News of Jesus Christ, because Christmas is all about Him! I can bring light into the darkness of the winter by shining the light of the Holy Spirit inside of me.

treeI do not need to do these things with Santa Claus, stockings, reindeer and things that have little to nothing to do with Jesus. But giving gifts is a beautiful thing, and it is very appropriate I feel, because our Father is a good Father who loves to spoil His children. We deserve nothing from Him, yet He gives us so many blessings and gifts in abundance! The best gift of all being His one and only Son! Who came into this world as a helpless baby, making Himself nothing so He could give us an inheritance! Who wouldn’t want to spend an entire season focusing on the selflessness and humility of Christ and His birth? Who cares if He wasn’t born in December – we don’t really know for sure. But what I do know is that the entire world in one way or another is celebrating Christmas and the birth of Jesus Christ, Savior of the World. So why should I shun Christmas because of paganism in the traditions and push away friends and family? That would cause a huge division in a time of hope and joy and unity.

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.  And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end.

Mark 3:24-26

Division is not of God. Our God is a God of community. God Himself is community as the Holy Trinity. He wants us to partake in community and fellowship. The devil wants to divide us and keep us alone. If we stop celebrating Christmas we are dividing ourselves from the church as a whole, our friends and family that celebrate. for most of December, because that is how long Christmas is celebrated. It is an entire season. Wouldn’t the devil just love to keep Christians from celebrating a holiday that was all about Jesus Christ?? Of course he would! He can convince some Christians to celebrate a satanic holy day such as Halloween, and others to not celebrate a holiday for Jesus. That is absolutely backwards! Enjoy the Christmas season by first asking God how He wants you to celebrate it. You may need to strip some of the things from it that He is displeased with, or you may need to add in new traditions of serving others. The most important thing is to be in connection and intimacy with God, loving Him and honoring Him above all. I am going to continue to write about Christmas as the Spirit leads, as I feel there is more to be said on this subject. Be blessed brothers and sisters!

And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

Matthew 2:11

 

 

December 30 2014

Christmas – The Reason For Hope

christmasThis year was my second Christmas as a Christian. As I have posted before I have always celebrated Christmas by going broke buying presents and enjoying the magic of Santa and all the other Christmas fairy tales that go with it. There are a lot of other things I love about Christmas, such as the lights and the food and the family gatherings, but the center of it all for me was lots of presents and Santa Claus.

So when I became Christian I realized I had to completely change my focus on Christmas, if I was going to celebrate it at all. Every December the same thing happens. My husband works construction and he cannot work during the rain. December usually gives us lots of rain, and so my husband has a fair amount of time off. Our bills start to pile up, and with Christmas presents, it makes it a very tough month. Yet every December without fail I find ways to go overboard buying presents. Well, in the past anyway. Last year I had to make a decision that presents needed to be cut way back in order to focus on The Reason For The Season – Jesus.

Somehow we make it every year though. OK, not somehow. It’s always been God, I just never knew it before. This year was no different. It poured rain and my husband worked for about half the month or less. We were already behind on our bills and the stress of getting them paid and getting at least a few presents for each of my 4 sons was weighing on me heavily. Well, I can’t say this year was no different – it actually was completely different. Usually I would be caving in under the weight of the stress. I would be ready just find a hole to hide in, or just end it all, because I could not deal with it.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.Matthew 11:28-29

I have had a serious problem with depression in the past and this time of year was always the worst. Knowing that we could not pay our bills, let alone afford presents was enough to take me into a deep, dark world where I would cease to function. But that was before God. Now that I have given my life to Christ and experience His healing salvation, problems are not the same as they used to be. I lean on Him when I am weak. I give Him my stress and struggles and ask Him for help. I literally was praying for a Christmas miracle this year, because I knew that we could not do any of this without Him.

When the stress came I prayed. When the fear threatened to set in, I rested in the shadow of the Almighty. I trusted in Jesus, and put all my faith in the One who I know has always provided for me. It was not easy. Days kept moving by and Christmas kept coming closer. I was so tempted to cave in to fear and depression over and over again. Instead I clung to my Rock and Redeemer. Oh how amazing it has been. Instead of trying to subdue the pain with drugs or alcohol, I felt peace, comfort. I felt safe.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. Isaiah 9:2

Jesus is the most wonderful gift we could ever get on Christmas day. We hear the story of His birth over and over every December. It is a beautiful story outlining the beginning of God’s plan to save us from ourselves. And it is so much more than that. The story of Jesus’ birth is awesome, but the reality that He is here now, our Glorious King, well that is much more amazing to me.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

And that focus is what got me through Christmas this year. Jesus has given this wretch a new life. A woman who would have easily spit in the face of Christianity, and took Jesus name as a swear word, has been redeemed. Saved. How can that be? How could God love someone like me? How could God continually bless my family and provide for us? I don’t deserve it. And yet He loves me so.

Oh how very humbled I have been this Christmas season. I have watched God provide a Christmas miracle for my family, and He is not done wowing me yet. He has more than provided for us though. He has more than sent us means to eat and pay bills and buy Christmas presents for our children. He has bowled me over with His never-ending and unfailing love. Oh how He loves us so…

cribI picture a little baby laying helpless in a manger, one cold winter night. The angels singing ‘glory, glory, glory!’ and a star lighting up the sky like a supernova. Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, in the form of a tiny little baby, giving up all His majesty in heaven to come here and be one of us. I see this and I realize He did this for me. Me. I am no one, I am not special, and I am a horrible sinner. Yet that is not how He sees me.

He sees me as beautiful, queen, co-heir, lovely and completely loved. Forever. Through all eternity I am His and He is mine. And so are you. Each one of us, who has confessed with their mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believed in their heart that He died for us. Amazing. Wonderful. Miraculous. Maybe when I was praying for a Christmas miracle I was asking for God to provide for my family, but what I didn’t realize I would get was the best gift of all. A change in my heart – an opening to Him. Opening even more to His love and acceptance.

Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:17

Being a Christian is much more than accepting Christ as your savior. It is a work in progress over the course of your entire life. The Holy Spirit is going to constantly move you to grow and mature in your walk of faith with Jesus. Every time I think that I have gotten to a great place in my relationship with Jesus and that I am understanding this Christian thing, I learn blown away by something new. Every time I reach a desperate low, I am taken to an all new high. I am so very thankful that Jesus came here to save me. Life without Him was awful and there was no hope, no reason to live. With Jesus I have not only the hope of eternal life with Him, but also the hope of everyday and the promises that He is fulfilling.

so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

 

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November 21 2014

Christmas Redemption

During my first year as a Christian, my husband and I were constantly evaluating our lives in light of our new relationship with Jesus. By the time Halloween came, I felt like my life had done a complete 180. It was overwhelming even. I am sure we could have gone slower in our transition into new creations, but I think it is safe to speak for both my husband and myself when I say, when we are in, we are all in. There is no doing something partially for either of us; we throw ourselves wholeheartedly into all of our endeavors. So after a six month whirlwind of change we fell upon the Christmas season. Christmas

I have always loved Christmas. For me Christmas was a magical time of Santa, lights, presents and family. I have the most nostalgia centered around Christmas than any other holiday. Every year we would go into the mountains to a Christmas tree farm and cut down a tree. I adopted this tradition after doing it with my parents as a kid. My husband and the kids and I would take the hour-long drive up the hill and enjoy the smell of fall. Fresh cut pines, hot apple cider, rain water soaking into the trees.

Then we would bring our tree home a decorate it with ornaments. Some old, some new, but all  special in some way. We would put our star on top and decorate the house with lights and stockings and a singing Santa. I would play all my favorite Christmas songs and sing them all the time. Oh how I loved Christmas!

Well this year Christmas was going to be different. I had never looked at Christmas from the perspective of a Christian before. It dawned on me that Christmas was not about Santa and presents, but actually the celebration of the birth of Jesus. That was a pretty huge deal and I thought that Christmas deserved a certain new respect and honor that I had never given it. Yes it was special before, but not special because of a wonderful miracle and the reason for my amazing new life.

Being a former pagan I was quite aware of the fact that Jesus was not born on December 25th. I studied the history of my pagan roots intently in the past and came to realize that Christians had actually stole December 25th from us pagans. I was completely appalled by this, but I was able to block out all that Jesus stuff and focus on the good about Christmas – Santa and presents. I mean, I couldn’t let those stupid Christians bother me. They stole everything from paganism and there wasn’t anything I could do about it.

So as you can see, some things needed to change now. For starters, every year we went broke buying our kids presents. I mean literally. One year, just a year before our life changing encounter with God, we spent our rent money on presents. Seriously. It was more important to me to give my kids a good Christmas than anything else. I had to lavish them with gifts and a big tree, etc, etc. My husband works construction and it was a slow month for him, so our income was not what we were used to. So at the end of the month we were scrambling to come up with enough to pay rent, but we couldn’t. It was all invested into toys under the tree. And so we had to move, because we were otherwise going to be evicted.

It was horribly scary and stressful. I put myself under a lot of undue stress every Christmas, trying to live up to the high expectations I had given the kids. I needed to see the tree jammed with presents underneath it, and the stockings sagging with more. Otherwise, what kind of Christmas was it? It was part of the nostalgia I had for Christmas.

So this year IMinolta DSC knew for starters that Christmas could not be about presents and Santa. We had to focus on Jesus. There was some question about whether or not we should even celebrate Christmas, due to it’s completely pagan roots. But after much prayer and consideration we felt that celebrating it was OK, as long as we focused on God. We began to strip down Christmas to its essentials. We did a tree, but kept it lightly decorated. We didn’t want to focus on the tree. We did presents, but cut way, way back. And we added in a new tradition – Advent. Advent was something I had never heard of, and it was really nice to help bring God into the season for us.

For a child is born to us,
    a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
    And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

God had redeemed Christmas for us. He had brought us out of darkness once again. The darkness of our slavery to buying gifts and focusing on money and material items. We did a couple of fun service projects with the kids to help get into the spirit of giving as well. It’s funny because I had always told the kids that Christmas was about giving, not getting, because they were always so obsessed with what they wanted and what they didn’t get. But I was not really teaching them the value that I told them was so important. I was teaching them that Christmas was all about getting presents and them. I was giving and loving it, but they were not.

I am so thankful for that first Christmas we had as a family, discovering a new love for our salvation, life, and the true meaning of it. Hope. Because Jesus came to give us hope that we could never have without Him. And with that hope comes faith and trust and love. And with that comes an open door to do things we never thought we could do, to love in ways we never thought we were capable of. That is the true celebration of Christmas.

Category: Into The Light, Living In Darkness | Comments Off on Christmas Redemption