Heavenly Father,

Some of the sweetest testimonies come from the youngest in our lives. One of my dear teacher friends told me she had taken her six year old nephew and another six year old, Warren, who is the son  of our Kindergarten teacher (and like another nephew to my teacher who was driving) to see Christmas lights. These two rambunctious boys wrestled all through the park as they walked through the lights. They were still wrestling in the back seat on the way home. Warren karate chopped the other boy and told him that he was dead. The other boy said, “No! I came back to life!”

Warren stopped and looked seriously at the other boy and said, “No! The only person that ever came back to life was Jesus.” He explained that Jesus is special. So the other boy asked him what makes Jesus special. Warren looked right at him and told him that Jesus is God’s Son and Mary’s son and He was born and died for us—that’s what makes Him special. The other boy said, “That’s cool!” Then they proceeded to karate chop each other.

Father, how I praise you for those who are ready and willing to share the good news of great joy for all people at every opportune time they can. Put those opportunities in front of me. Let me recognize them, use them and trust You with the results—just like my young friend Warren! I know it is not up to me to save people. Only Jesus can do that. It is up to me to deliver the message, to drop the seed of the good news so You can make it grow in others’ lives.

*****

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.”  Luke 2:14

 

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’”  Luke 2:10-12

 

“But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things He did and the children shouting in the temple courts, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David,’ they were indignant. ‘Do you hear what these children are saying?’ they asked him. ‘Yes,’ replied Jesus, ‘have you never read, ‘From the lips of children and infants You, Lord, have called forth your praise’?” Matthew 21: 15-16

******

Prayer Prompt-

Lord, do I know You? Do I praise You?

Heavenly Father,

Who would think that the greatest gift to the world would come wrapped in such a humble package?! The world is going a little over the top with Christmas glitter, blitz and shopping at this moment. It would appear that the “celebration of Christmas” is trying to overshadow Jesus Christ. Yet the more I turn to You, the more I realize that is not even remotely possible. Father, You knew exactly what You were doing when You chose such a humble way to save the world.

You chose Mary, a simple young peasant girl, who was willing to humble herself to bear life to the Holy One- the Savior of the world! I can’t even imagine the humiliation she must have endured to be a virgin who became pregnant during those times. She was humble enough to trust You when her betrothed fiancé knew it couldn’t be his child. She was humble enough to trust You had a larger plan for her and the baby than the possibility of a public death by stoning.

You selected Joseph, simple carpenter who tried his best to live a righteous life (and who was humble to believe the baby was Yours) to raise Your Son from a baby to manhood- to teach the “Word made flesh” how to be a man. You chose a lowly shelter for animals to be the birthplace of the Kings of kings. You chose some nearby shepherds, lowest of lows, to be among the select few who heard the entire angelic host proclaiming the most incredible birth of all times. You chose an old man and an old woman who had spent their lives believing and waiting for the coming Messiah to be the only ones who recognized the only completely “God in flesh” to ever be born and dedicated in the temple.

You, O God, sent Jesus Christ unrecognized—in quiet humility to be born as one of us, yet without sin throughout His entire life, to live unobtrusively among Your people. You  sent the One who helped You create all that there is save all who are humble enough to accept the way to live forever with You. Jesus with all His humbleness walked willingly and boldly to lay His life down for our sins on the cross so we could be made new. Father, make me humble before You—knowing I am nothing without Jesus Christ. Let me worship Him in humbleness this Christmas. Yet make me BOLD—knowing I can do all things through Him who has made me new and lives forever in Me. It is only through the humble boldness of Jesus Christ that I live forever with You.

 

********

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name  that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”    Philippians 2:5-11

 

******

 

Prayer Prompt-

Father, have I humbled myself before You, accepted, believed and confessed Jesus Christ as Lord?

Dear Friends,

By now you have probably already had more than one grief burst triggered by the holidays. The sights, sounds, smells can set off a memory in an instant when you least expect it. You made it through Thanksgiving (Congratulations) and Christmas is everywhere! A Christmas song played innocently in a grocery store can take you to your knees. The sight of Christmas lights may make you pull over til you can safely drive again. The thought of putting up a tree or shopping may even make you sick at your stomach. Who knew the joy-filled holidays could hurt so much?

It can be incredibly painful to see everyone else look so happy when you’re world has been torn apart. Can’t they see you do not want to celebrate having Christmas without your loved one? Doesn’t anyone realize how immensely lonely you are—sometimes even in a large crowded room or even when you are gathered with dear friends and family. You’re loved one is not with you and the vacancy is so empty. It may be your first time to go through the holidays without them or your third. There’s just so much about Christmas that makes you miss them even more. Even twenty years later, you will find your heart filled with precious holiday memories from the past.

There’s a lot you can do to prepare for facing the holidays when you are still grieving so actively.

  1. Make a list of how you usually celebrate (Decorate, bake, shop, parties, dinner, etc)
  2. Decide what you can pare down to make it manageable in your vulnerable state.
  3. Ask others to help you if it is important to keep up a tradition
  4. Start a new tradition that honors your loved one (an ornament with their photo, candle…)
  5. Accept invitations, but let it be known you have no idea how you will feel that day.
  6. Leave yourself room to leave a party if you need to
  7. Talk about your loved one. Others are often afraid to cause you pain (You just want to hear their name again)
  8. Get a gift for your loved one and give it to someone who it will mean a lot to
  9. GO EASY on yourself. Don’t try to do everything you did before
  10. Celebrate JESUS who was born to bring true hope and eternal life to the broken-hearted. He will never ever leave you or forsake you. His presence will begin to heal and bring joy again.

 

***I’m hosting one more SURVIVING GRIEF THROUGH THE HOLIDAY sessions on Wednesday, Dec 12 from 1-2PM at North Side Christian Church, 2526 NW 122, Oklahoma City, OK (It goes far more in-depth than the above helps.)

 

***Give yourself or someone you know who is grieving a true gift that will help them write down their story, memories and find true hope in the adult or children’s versions of MY FOREVER MEMORIES OF YOU. If you see me, you can get one from me. It will help them work through grief long after the holidays are over.

Love and prayers,

Eva

 

“He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”  Isaiah 61:1

 

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”  Luke 2:10 (This news of Jesus is especially good for the brokenhearted.)

Heavenly Father,

Today I’m packing away the Christmas decorations for yet another year.  Some of my ornaments have been being put on the tree and taken off the tree since before my children were babies. I have about three even older glass ornaments left which were brought over on the ship my great grandparents traveled on to start a new life in America. Some ornaments are very familiar and others are brand new. Each holds special meaning as I ponder sweet relationships different ornaments represent to my heart.

I also pack the growing collection of nativity ornaments which represent another relationship. I always start a new prayer journal at the beginning of every year. The paper may be brand new, but after so many years, there are times my relationship with You, Lord, seems very comfortable and familiar. You created me. You know me better than anyone (including myself) ever could. You have never left me during one moment of my life. You know me so well, that You often point out things which are harboring in my soul which I didn’t even know were there. You lead me into new territories. You restore my newness of life. You lovingly correct and train me. You delight in showing me new truths and sights. You take joy in showing Your love in new ways. I am totally comfortable being still and quiet in Your presence… or pouring out my heart in pages of anxious words. I have no doubt You hear my every thought and request. I love to watch how You work as I bring things to You.

Father God, I may feel loved and comfortable with You yet I am also in awe of who You are! Why would the God Almighty, who has all power and authority, want a relationship with me?! Why would the God, who created and sustains all there is and ever will be, who owns everything, who rules over all that is, who brings life from nothing, humble Himself by sending His Son to be born as a human baby? Who else would show such love to sacrifice His own holy Son to pay for our sin? To cleanse us? To save us? To bring us back to You? Father, all other relationships grow sweeter as I continue to grow in my relationship with You. You never change! You just reveal more of Yourself each year, each day, each time I seek more of You. Another Christmas and New Year have come and gone…but You, Lord, are with me forever and ever. I don’t want to just be comfortable. I want to deepen my relationship with You as I discover even more of You. I guess I will fall more and more in love with You for all eternity for there is no end to who You are!

*****

“Now this is eternal life: that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.”   John 17:3

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  Mark 12:30

“You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.”  Jeremiah 29:13

****

Prayer Prompt-

Lord, I want more of You…

Heavenly Father,
I recall waiting anxiously for my firstborn son to be born. I had never really been around babies and had many people try to tell me what it would be like. No one can tell you just how completely having a baby will change your entire life. No words can express the overpowering love that consumes you as you hold that baby who somehow came to life inside you. No one can prepare you for the life of sacrifice, tears, smiles, hugs and ever-growing love that is birthed as you embrace that tiny helpless infant. I’ve had the honor of giving birth to more than my fair share of new-born loves- some through natural birth; others through marriage; many through grandchildren; some through adoption—and many, many more through teaching and caring-giving.
There’s nothing like holding a little baby—and wondering what gift will be unwrapped to the world through this one little person as they grow. There’s nothing like watching those who I have held at a young age (in my arms and in my heart) develop into amazing people. Each and every single baby changes the world just by being who they are.
Yet, there is one baby who was set apart from all the rest, who was born in Your perfect timing, who changes everything forever. Father, You sent Jesus Christ to be born as one of us- fully human (ready and willing to endure everything as one of us in this harsh world.) Yet Jesus is You in the flesh! He was sent to bring us back to You—to be the way to eternal life with You. You sent Him as a frail human baby to overcome the world, separation from You caused by sin, and death itself. You sent Jesus to die for our sake so we might live forever with You. Jesus Christ, this little tiny infant, was born unto a virgin, to deliver us from evil, to live forever in our hearts, to overcome the world, to empower us from on high, to give us new life, to cleanse us, to save us, to change our lives forever! My life has been completely consumed by the birth of Jesus in me! I can never be the same again. He lives in me… and I in Him! How I adore this baby who grew to be my Savior and King! Father, I pray for more to accept and cherish the gift of Jesus Christ as they ask Him to be born anew in their hearts. He changes everything!
*******
“I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10-11
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God…And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1,2,14
“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel—which means ‘God with us.’” Matthew 1:23
Jesus said in John 14:6: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.”
******
Prayer Prompt-
Father, I accept and believe in Your greatest gift of Jesus Christ. Let Him be born in me…

Heavenly Father,

A young lady I know just went home after spending almost two months in the hospital on bedrest. They were trying to keep her from having her baby boy prematurely. She had lots of practice simply waiting. She finally successfully made it safely to the point they felt she was safe to go home to finish out her pregnancy.  She and her young husband are still waiting for the birth of their firstborn son. Waiting is challenging—even if it’s for the wonderful birth of a new baby.  By nature, we are not too good at waiting.

Working with small children, I can testify to the fact that waiting for Christmas drives kids into a super-frenzy (as well as their parents and teachers!) Some people spend all their lives waiting for what they think will finally make them happy…to graduate, to find their perfect job or soulmate, make the big money, get the car or house they’ve always wanted, go on the trip of their dreams, to become famous as an author, actor, musician or athlete, for the kids to grow up, for retirement… Lord, we confess that sometimes we are waiting for what we think will fulfill us and we miss the abundant, overflowing life You’ve given us that is ready for us to receive right now.

Ever since sin entered the world, people had been long awaiting the birth of Your promised Messiah. Most missed His quiet birth into this world because they were busy waiting for their own version of a Savior and King. Yet there were a few who were watching and praising…Elizabeth, the Wise men, shepherds, Simeon and Anna in the temple, and Mary. While Mary was expecting, she believed and sang Your praises even when she couldn’t see. Father, I can never thank You enough for what You’ve given us in Jesus Christ. Now that He has been born, lived as one of us, willingly took on our sins and died on the cross, and rose again to defeat death and give us eternal life, I don’t want to just waste my life waiting. I want to live richly and fully with Him as I wait for His return to get me. I want to sing praises like Mary as I wait upon You! Waiting becomes a joy when I’m with You.

*******

“Now at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.’

And Mary said: ‘My soul exalts the Lord,

And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;

For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.

For the Mighty One has done great things for me;

And holy is His name.

And His mercy is upon generation after generation

Toward those who fear Him.

He has done mighty deeds with His arm;

He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.

He has brought down rulers from their thrones,

And has exalted those who were humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things;

And sent away the rich empty-handed.

He has given help to Israel His servant,

In remembrance of His mercy,

As He spoke to our fathers,

To Abraham and his descendants forever.’”  Luke 1:39-55

****

Prayer Prompt-

Lord, help me to wait with You for…

Most Glorious Heavenly Father,

At the start of every Christmas season for several years now, I always pray to discover more of the gift You’ve given us when You sent us Jesus Christ. At the first of the month, I sincerely prayed this again, trusting You would reveal more of the never-ending gift of Jesus Christ. I committed to spend more time alone in Your presence so I could truly discover more of the most remarkable gift ever given. I longed to have long moments to “ponder” and hold Your gift as Mary did. That was my Christmas plan this year.

What happened was more activity than ever before. At least it seemed that way! A neighbor with no one to care for her had a huge surgery. There was no one else at all to help her…except me…right in the midst of all kinds of family gatherings and other obligations. I know You well enough to know You would lead the way and give me all I needed to handle the extra load. At the same time there were 4 new grandchildren added into our already huge family- one by birth and three through fostering. There was much activity surrounding those joys. There was my work with lots of extra Christmas festivities; teaching a Bible class with more Christmas celebrations, teaching children at church with special lessons on Jesus’ birth, hosting special Holiday Grief sessions, appearing as “Mary” before children and parents; shopping, wrapping and cooking for 30 family members; delivering Christmas gifts for families for church…and so much more!

So much for spending extra quiet time with You during the Christmas season! In the midst of my longing for quiet time with You to discover more of Jesus, we had a Bible lesson on the Good Samaritan where the priest and Levite both passed by a wounded man instead of stopping to care for him. You brought to my attention how often Jesus tried to get away in the hills to spend alone time with You in prayer yet the people found Him with their great needs. You somehow laid on my heart that Jesus left the glory of Your holy presence to come to earth in the most humble ways out of Your love for us! Jesus came to be born in human form, live without sin, and die for us so that we would never have to be separated from Your presence- no matter how busy we are or what we’ve done. Because of Jesus, Your presence is always with me! There truly is no greater present ever given!

************

“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.’”   Luke 2:13-14

“For I am convinced that neither life nor death, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38-39

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b

************

Prayer Prompt-

Father, thank You for the gift of Jesus who continues to….

15442220_10208064406263619_90740748384825963_n

Heavenly Father,

When I unpacked the winter clothes, I was so excited about finding the warm socks my son bought me last Christmas! My family knows I have feet that never get warm in the winter. My son researched the very best socks for warmth and got me three pair! His wife was embarrassed to get me socks, but my son knew how excited I would be. Little did he know I would be excited all over again this year when I unpacked them again! In fact, I am wearing them right now!…The first Christmas decoration I always unpack is a beautiful large nativity set my sweet friend gave me years ago though she had no money. It is like getting it all over again every time I set it up! Both gifts remind me of the love behind the gift!

Christmas is like that! It never gets old! No matter how many years I celebrate another one, it’s like unpacking the gift of Jesus in a new way every year! I can remember years in the past celebrating with loved ones who are no longer here and with little children who have grown up and have their own families now. I can reminisce about truly hard times and smile over joyful memories of Christmas. Friends and loved ones might have moved, left home or gone to their eternal home, but Jesus is still with me.

Lord, You are with me all year round, but there’s something about Christmas that helps me unpack Your amazing gift in a new way. Once again, I am amazed how You can fit all of Your glory in a tiny helpless newborn baby to come and live as one of us. He is the gift that changes everything; that makes all things new; that can bring light and hope in the darkness; that can come and save us and  bring us back to You where we belong. Jesus is the gift that has no end; that never wears out or gets broken; that never dies or leaves us. Jesus is Your eternal gift to us. No matter how often we look at Him, we will never run out of new things to discover, new truths to understand; new facets of Your love. Father, even though we have all eternity, we will never be able to use up all of Jesus. Help me take time to unpack, appreciate and dwell on Your greatest gift.  You gave Him to us and He is forever revealing Your love for us! Praise You for Your eternal gift of Jesus Christ!

***************

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”   John 3:16

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”   Romans 6:23

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15

***************

Prayer Prompt-

Holy Father, thank You for Jesus Christ who…

15391155_10208032625829128_4339256001971927483_n

Heavenly Father,

I love the way You placed Jesus in a family. You chose to send Him to a sweet young girl who was only betrothed but not married yet. You knew Your Son would need a mother who could care for him, encourage and understand Him better than anyone else on earth- to the best of her understanding. You knew Mary’s willing heart and gave her that special place to carry Your Son and stand with Him from birth to the cross. You needed a special man who would step in to raise Jesus, knowing this baby was not of his own flesh and blood. Though you understood his initial hesitation, You always knew Joseph would answer Your call to be Your Son’s earthly stepdad! You knew You could trust Joseph to provide and protect Your own Son. It was all part of Your plan to place Your eternal Son in an earthly family.

I love watching how You place people in families- both biological and otherwise! I have witnessed how You placed children in my family through birth, marriage and many other amazing creative ways. Now, I get to watch You place other people in my children’s families in lots of ways. Recently, You placed three little siblings in my son and daughter-in-law’s lives to transform a childless couple into an instant family of five! These kids might have been forever separated had it not been for their willingness to gather these children into their family. They are willing to give up their own freedom to care for these children as their own. You still use Your own willing children to draw the lonely and needy into Your family!

More than that, You sent Jesus who was willing to be born in humble human form as a needy baby; to live and grow up in this dark and challenging world; to take on all our sin (though He was the only one holy and pure) so He could willingly die on the cross and rise again- all to gather us back into Your family! Many may feel lonely and isolated this Christmas due to death, grief, loss, separation or even the awful wounds of being abandoned or kicked out of a family. Father, thank You for sending Jesus to bring us home to You. No one can ever separate us from Your love! Because of Jesus Christ, we are part of Your eternal family!

**********

“Sing to God, sing praise to His name, extol Him who rides on the clouds- His name is the Lord- and rejoice before Him. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families…”   Psalm 68:4-6a

“He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”  John 1:11-13

“How great is the love the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are!”  1 John 3:1

************

Prayer Prompt- Father, thank You for putting me in a family…

Apparition-to-the-Shepherds

Heavenly Father,

We are, once again, celebrating the most incredible birth to ever take place- the birth of the One who changes everything- the birth of Your Son who split history in two- the birth of the Savior who seems to bring more division than anyone else ever; yet who is the only one who can unite us with You. Christmas is the loud and flashy birthday party celebrated around the world by multitudes, many who don’t even know Your Son Jesus. It is the longest, most celebrated birthday party in the history of earth…yet Jesus was born in the quietest, most humble way possible.

 

He was born to a virgin mother who could have been stoned for her pregnancy (and surely had to bear an undeserved tainted reputation all her earthly life). He was born poor and homeless in a dirty stable surrounded by animals after being turned away from other shelter. Though He had lived with You in the glory of heaven and helped create all there is, He was willing to be born in the flesh in this sinful world just like each of us. The One who helped speak the stars and seas into place was willing to humble Himself to be born as a fragile newborn infant needing a mother’s care and a stepdad’s protection. This very birth had been predicted since the very first sin. Those who studied prophecy waited long for the coming promised Messiah and King. Who would have thought the King of kings and Lord of lords would come in such a quiet way?

 

It may have appeared to be a quiet birth…yet all of heaven was singing louder and in more amazement than ever before! All the angels and heavenly host couldn’t contain their awe of Your indescribable gift to mankind. Who would have thought or considered such a plan…but You, Father! All the joy of heaven was shared with those who were humble enough to hear and see for themselves. It is still like that! Jesus is born into the hearts of those who are humble and ready to receive Your Son. The world might not notice, but there is more joy in heaven than can be contained and it spills over into the heart of the one in whom Jesus is born again! It’s the loudest quietest birth ever!

 

****************

“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests.’ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”   Luke 2:13-15

“He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or of a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”   John 1:10-14

“I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”   Luke 15:7

****************

 

Prayer Prompt-

Father, Help me celebrate Jesus’ birth in a new way this Christmas. Let Him be born in my heart…