This is my most favorite time of year – the Christmas season. Anything seems possible. People often seem friendlier, the music sounds better, lights are brighter, and cookies are just right. Faith in something bigger than ourselves seems more of a reality than an outlandish idea, but I think we are seriously deprived if these things are only true after Thanksgiving. Why can’t we live with the same sense of joy and giving 365 days out of the year? I recently heard someone address a group of people about the Christmas season, and this person said, “I am not going to ask you to do anything difficult like taking all of your gifts to those less fortunate.” It struck me during this speech that isn’t that the complete opposite of what Christ asks of us – HE asks the difficult of us, to sacrifice our comfort out of compassion for others who might not be so fortunate. In fact it is more of a command than a request – if you are to call yourself one who looks like me, then deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow ME (Luke 9:23). If we do this, take the initiative to look like Christ, then we should, in my humble opinion, look and act as though it is Christmas all the time – we should be joyful and giving and confident in the person, power and purpose God has instilled in us who call Him Lord no matter the circumstances.
I am convinced we would be amazed at the results if we just got out of His way and started living like we really believe what we say we believe. I know that I cannot change anyone, but I can change me and pray for God’s power to change me and my attitude. I am sick of being apathetic and doing nothing. I believe it’s time to get off the bench and get in the game and to go big or go home. I tend to be passionate about the things that interest me, and somewhere along the way I have lost part of that. However, that ends now and WE MUST PUT EVERYTHING WE HAVE INTO THIS LIFE. After all, this is the only one we have, and I for one do not want to get to the end and regret not doing something. Failure is not failure if we learn a lesson while we are down and get back up and keep living; failure is falling and staying down. It’s time to get up and move on – a wiser , more joyful, more giving, and more Godly woman than before. You know life is hard and it’s not fair 99.99% of the time, but the people I admire most are those that have risen above the adversity and triumphed.
I don’t mean to sound preachy because this is as much to me to anyone else – I really see this as much of a vent session as a blog that I hope encourages someone else out there. In the hope of encouraging someone, I am including a small sampling of things that bring me joy!
1. My niece and nephew… particularly how my niece gets really excited when she sees me!
2. The way my parents still flirt and date after 30 years of marriage… sometimes it’s a tish awkward but such a great example.
3. My sisters – nobody and I mean nobody can irk one of us worse than one of us but loving them is not an option and I don’t have better friends than them.
4. Christmas lights on a cold night with some Bing Crosby playing in the background!
5. Green things… Sorry I am not overly eco-friendly but I adore the color green!
6. Music… there is nothing else like it in the world.
7. Doing what God calls you to do and seeing Him work through you – there is no greater feeling in the world.
I love the lines of the branches and reach of the limbs that seem to stretch out and call out to you.
Its not just the oak and pine trees, but Christmas trees are one of my favorite things about the Christmas season. The smell of a real Christmas tree is absolutely amazing - I mean I could just walk up and down the live tree section at Lowe's all day. It smells like Christmas, and Christmas does not really start to me until the Christmas tree is up and decorated.
I have always had this thing about trees, and they have always been a big part of my life and what I notice about places I go. In fact, one of the things that attracted me so much to the house we live in are the Crepe Myrtle trees in the backyard. Anyways, I am obsessed with trees and history, and it occurred to me the other day that trees are witnesses to history. There are some beautiful trees around my grandparents' and parents' houses and they have been there at least since my great-grandparents moved to Jones County in the early 1900's. The trees were there when my great-grandparents built the original home-place and when my grandparents became their neighbors and when my parents built their home.
While working on my master's degree, one of the classes offered was a field experience that took you through some of the oldest places in South Mississippi. The trees found in Natchez and Vicksburg and everywhere in between were amazingly old and covered in moss. They looked so old and beautiful and had been there since the days of the Civil War when the ladies in big ornate dresses lounged underneath the trees during the summer. The idea of something, anything surviving the years to be around to tell a story of years gone by is wonderful to me.
If you think about it, trees are a big part of history. Laurel, the city I call home, was founded on the lumber industry. Trees were cleared to build the cities in the South, and used to build homes, businesses, etc. And for those of us who are Christians, there is one tree in particular that is of upmost importance. As it was a tree that was used to form a cross on which the Savior of the world died so that we might have access to God. Deeply rooted in love and defying death to stretch out and embrace the world so that all might be saved.