“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 NIV
Good Morning and Merry Christmas Eve! It’s Try Something New Tuesday! We are always looking for something new to try, especially in terms of relieving our stress. We want a little “peace” and quiet, a “peaceful” evening, and “peace” in the office and at church.
I’ve been conducting a little research on peace for a book that I’m working on. I have a BA in Political Science and International Affairs with a minor in history and economics. So, I have spent many hours studying peace in the classroom. One thing I know for certain is we do not live in a peaceful world. All you need to do is turn on the television at night. You will see politicians arguing, shootings and other disturbing images. While this seems to be a new phenomenon, it’s not. History shows that only a little more than 10 percent of the time humans have inhabited the earth there has been peace. There have been 286 wars within the last 300 years in Europe alone. What have we or our representatives done? Entered into countless peace treaties meant to last forever. The sad truth is most lasted no more than two years.
Everyone want to eliminate stress and find some peace. Stress is not what you see on television, or at work. Stress is how we react to what is taking place. It’s internal to us. Stress is the internal tension, which can be both emotional and physical, we feel when we can’t control our environment.
I would like to suggest that real peace is not derived from what is going on around us. A warm bath does not give us peace. Walking in the woods may feel peaceful, but it doesn’t give us peace. Shootings and fights do not give us peace. Peace is something that happens within us.
God sent a personal representative to be our “Prince of Peace.” In John 14:24, Jesus explained to the disciples that although the world was certainly not peaceful, He would provide the peace we need that is unlike what we see and expect in the world. In fact, it is beyond our understanding. This is something to remember and to celebrate during Christmas and every day.
Today, turn inward to find the peace you are missing. May God bless you!
“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11 KJV
Christmas Eve is only three days away and I’m cuddled under a blanket with a warm cup of coffee. Sitting here surrounded by my pets, I’m making a mental list of things that need to be done. It will be a busy week with many great moments. Yet, my mind drifts and my focus blurs as I recall years gone by and Christmas celebrations in my life.
As a child I loved helping my mother decorate and bake Christmas goodies. Not only do the scents of Christmas treats fill my mind, but also the strong odors of wood chopped by my father on those cold days we gathered firewood, and of the smell of a fresh Christmas tree harvested from “back forty” of my paternal grandmother’s farm. Christmas at church included going door-to-door singing Christmas carols in scarves and mittens made by mom. I sat in church with my maternal grandmother and listened by her side about what Christmas really meant. Christmas Eve was always celebrated with my paternal grandparents. My father’s four sisters lived away, so most Christmas Eve celebrations were at our home. We were allowed to open one gift and after dinner enjoyed fireworks bought by my parents. On the years that my aunts were in town, the celebration was larger and more exciting with cousins. The evening always ended with a ride around town to enjoy decorations and Christmas lights. Christmas morning was so exciting. After we opened our presents, we traveled all the way across the street to my maternal grandmother’s home for Christmas lunch and presents. When the day was over, I remember my mother feeling melancholy that Christmas was over until the next year.
As a teen Christmas was a little different, but still exciting. There were dances and parties to attend, and boyfriends that stole Christmas kisses under the mistletoe. One Christmas I went to the Blue-Grey Game with my high school band, where music my band director had helped me arrange was played on national television. Unknown to me at the time, this would be a transition into my adult life.
As a young adults Christmas meant juggling four sets of grandparents and two sets of parents. It was exhausting. Yet, today I wish I had that problem. It would be nice to spend time with each person who is no longer with us. From our very first Christmas together, we collected a special ornament each year related to where we were in our lives. Once our children were born, we kept some traditions and started some of our own. The traditions would continue to change with time. My husband and I had so much fun shopping for gifts for the children, and watching their faces as they opened their presents. Every year we watched Jimmy Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life” and counted our blessings. When the children grew older they were involved in Christmas pageants, handbells and acolyte activities at church. During their teen years we changed our tradition at home to opening presents after midnight mass at church. It made the kids happy, and we were able to get a little rest. Two of my fondest memories were of our son being Crucifer on Christmas Eve during his senior year of high school and our daughter playing the role of Mary in the Christmas pageant, when she was a little girl.
When our children left home, we celebrated college graduations, engagements, weddings and pregnancies. Hanging the Christmas ornaments became a nostalgic walk into the season. As grandparents with an empty nest, we still enjoy midnight mass on Christmas Eve. What better way to celebrate! We also look forward to our parents, children and grandchildren joining us on Christmas Day.
Last year, Christmas followed Hurricane Michael and celebrating was among the ruins. Despite the obvious, we celebrated. This year I have fallen behind. Less than a week to prepare and all I have accomplished is shopping, wrapping and attending parties. My husband is struggling, as well. He took the day off to finish putting a swing set together for the grandchildren. While we plan to attend midnight mass, it will be in the Parish Hall, because our House of Worship is still uninhabitable.
The angel of the Lord said “I bring you good tidings of great joy.” Have you ever thought about what “great joy” means? It’s not just happiness and fond memories. Despite the fact that it was a gift from the angel, we have to choose joy to enjoy it. Then, with the happiness we experience a peace that is far beyond our imaginations.
Our church recognizes the Liturgical Calendar. The season that we are in now is called Advent. The Christmas season actually starts with Christmas. Advent is a time of self exploration and penitence, but it also a time of joyful expectation. Christ is the “Prince of Peace” and his coming joy is a choice that we all need to accept. Even when we may have sorrow in hearts about people who are no longer here, or those who will be leaving us soon, and even when we long for carefree days gone by, we have the choice. As the seasons in our lives change, so does the peace that comes with the choice of joy.
Enjoy your Saturday and choose joy! May God bless you!
“And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”
2 Corinthians 1:7 NIV
Friday is always an exciting day in our office. It means a break is coming. Most have big plans for the weekend. It’s a time for friends, family and fun that leads to new beginnings as Monday rolls in.
Over the past few months at work I have had the opportunity to write stories about local businesses for both local newspapers. It’s a way to promote businesses in a small town. I love writing, so I was excited about the opportunity from the very beginning, but knew that it would be additional work for which I would be responsible. In other words, I have the same amount of work plus this new assignment. Yet, I have not once hated or dreaded working extra late or early. You might wonder why. The reason is, I have been given a gift to see people in a different light. An hour of talking with someone who would normally visit my office for an unwanted permit has changed me as a person.
I ensure every article is positive, which hasn’t been a problem at all. After two to three months of publishing three or more articles a week, I have something to share. Everyone has a heartfelt story. Most keep them hidden away for fear of pain or maybe embarrassment. My hope for humanity has been restored in ways you cannot even imagine. However, I want to encourage you to be vulnerable and share your stories with others. It will change the world. Also, it allows others to receive their blessings by helping you.
I sat in my office a couple of months ago and listened to a young business owner tell me how satan had come into his life while he was attending a university. He held a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. I’m so blessed that he survived. I sat and cried with him as he revealed his story of how God turned his life around and how promising his future has become. I interviewed a couple who had recently lost an adult child. I spoke with two ladies that God brought together as business partners to help autistic children, and one lady who added to her husband’s business, while he was out-of-town, a ladies boutique called “Mustard Seed” because of her faith in God. I interviewed a lady who went out on her own and opened a business to make others feel better about themselves, and a lady operating her business while caring for two aging parents. That’s just a few of the many touching stories.
Your story is important too, and will help others. Take time to share it. Also, take time to listen. Really listen to the stories behind the faces. I promise your blessings will be great! God bless you.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28 KJV
Good Morning and Happy Friday!
What seems like is a great day for those of us who are anticipating the weekend, might be more challenging for others. There are people all around you suffering from emotional and physical pain. Often diseases are invisible to human eyes. You look at the person and don’t know the pain they are experiencing. They struggle to hide their suffering for many reasons. Emotional pain is even more invisible than physical, and can cause just as much suffering.
You don’t have to look hard to find people who need you to brighten their day. There was an elderly lady in front of me in the checkout line a couple of days ago. Her husband was in a wheel chair and she was having trouble working the credit card machine to pay. All she needed was someone to care enough to help her without compromising any security issues. I turned around and there was another lady who just wanted someone to listen to her. She was lonely. When we stop rushing from place-to-place, we can see pain all around us.
So, today when you see someone who is short-tempered, rude, or struggling, pause and pray for them silently. Ask God to work through you in their life. Maybe you can do something to ease their stress and pain. If you are in pain today, I will keep you in my prayers. Turn to God. He eases the suffering of the worn. God bless you.
Grace to you and peace [inner calm and spiritual well-being] from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
GALATIANS 1:3 AMP
Good morning from the very beautiful New Orleans. The sky is cloudless this morning as I prepare to depart this city rich with culture. The visit has been a wonderful opportunity for me professionally and personally. However, I miss my husband and I’m ready to return home. If you ever visit New Orleans, the food is magnificent.
During my stay I worked on my studies some at night. I’m currently studying the Book of Galatians. The first chapter is packed full of information. I spent three or four hours last night studying Galatians 1 and I’m still working on it. One theme that jumped out at me and I wanted to share is “Grace versus Legalism”. I often hear people say legalism, but I didn’t realize what they meant until now. It’s completely understandable as Christians that we feel obligated to do something, but that is legalism. It could be dressing a certain way, following Old Testament laws, or feeling obligated to go or serve at Church. Legalism puts the focus on us rather than on our sweet Lord. Rather that working to please God, we should focus on working for God because we love Him so much and in thanksgiving for all our blessings. You see, we have salvation by faith and spirituality by grace. There is nothing we can do to be saved, but accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. As our verse today tells us, peace is a part of that grace (Galatians 1:3). Isn’t that great! Then, the “works” we do should be in thanksgiving and a way of honoring our Lord.
So, today try something new by spending your time pleasing God in thanksgiving. Have a super day! God bless you.