Christmas Letter

December is always a hard month for me.  I think it’s hard for a lot of people, but I only know my own story, my own perspective on this “joyful” month.  December isn’t just Christmas and New Year’s for me, it’s my birthday month as well.  Actually as I write this, I’m one year older, today is the day!  I chose to spend it with all of you sitting in my dining room (that I enjoy very much), after a double work out (my body is a living sacrifice), a “clean” breakfast, and a scrumptious mocha I created myself with very healthy ingredients!

Here’s the reason December has always been a tough one for me.  I have a very active imagination and huge expectations…every single year that I can remember.  Anticipation is a gloriously creative endeavor of mine.  I like to have it, create it, and make others’ anticipation so grand that they’re in a tither.  And for some odd reason I think that others should do the same for me.  Which naturally, is never enough.  Goodness gracious, I’ll just confess it here already.  I’m a selfish, greedy grown woman, but God’s working on me, and I’m much better the older I get.  But back to Christmas…

Although December 25th isn’t scientifically proven to be the birthday of Jesus, we all go with it because it comes at the end of a long year, we can get two holidays in a week, retailers need a boost at the end of the fiscal year, and for those of us in snowy climates it’s great for sparkly lights and pretty decorations.  As a child Christmas’ were filled with wonder and magic and LOTS of gifts.  And that was the excitement.  I can hear your disapproval…of course Christmas is about family, friends, peace, goodwill towards man, etc., etc.… but as most children and adolescents (and adults if they’re honest) can attest, it isn’t about that for them.  I was no different.  Sorry to disappoint, not a spiritual giant in any way, shape or form.

Until one Christmas my blended family of seven, who had previously been fairly well-off, lost pretty much everything.  My parents were floundering in a California crisis and their business, property flipping and management, went under.  So that year the five of us kids decided we would surprise our parents with gifts for them!  I was the oldest, a late-teen, and organized the mission.  We pooled money and we each bought each of our parents a gift – for those of you that are mathematically challenged like me – that’s 5 gifts for Mom and 5 gifts for Dad!  Because we wanted to make it just as special for them, we wrapped as much separately as we could for lots of presents!  We wanted them to be as excited as we were each Christmas morning past.

They were happy!  Even my Dad, a self-professed Scrooge, smiled with delight.  But the best gift of all was actually from my Mother.  She’s a creative, unconditional love kind of woman, and it broke her heart not to be able to give us gifts.  So she wrote us each a letter.  The letters were on pretty Christmas stationary and placed in the tree branches.  None of us even noticed the envelopes, we were so wrapped up in the giving process.  But after the adults had opened their gifts and we had our traditional home-made cream-filled puffs, my Mother asked us to get our envelopes from the tree.  I don’t know if it meant as much to my younger siblings, to be honest I don’t remember ever talking out loud about the letters with them.  But to me, then and over the years, it was the very best gift I’ve received from anyone (yes, yes, salvation is definitely the best gift I’ve ever received…I know some of you are shocked that I can even compare…but God works through people as well in giving us gifts!).

I still have that letter and have read it a few times over the years, but I don’t need to read it to remember how I felt that Christmas morning.  I felt special; I believed that I had a lot to offer the world, that I could make a difference.  I felt that I had talent and abilities and potential.   I felt that I was important and unconditionally loved.  I was so blessed by that hand-written letter that to this day I count that as the best Christmas present ever!

This will come out on December 30th, so most of us will have celebrated the birth of Christ in various ways, with big families, small gatherings, or all alone.  And we’ve got another “special” time to get through with New Year’s Eve and all that brings with it.  Maybe you anticipate the New Year and are excited to get glammed up and hit the dance floor, or snuggle by a fire and watch the ball drop.  But it’s also very possible that you’re anticipating the worst, dreading the night alone, again.  Maybe you can’t get a babysitter, can’t afford a babysitter, or a night on the town.  Maybe you feel like you don’t matter and the New Year will be just as disappointing as the Old Year.

Make some time to read God’s Christmas letter to you.  It’s definitely the best gift you’ll ever receive.  The Bible is full of God’s love for you.  He thinks you’re pretty amazing.  He delights in you.  He loves you, just as you are, so very, very much that He gave you the ultimate gift.  His very own Son.  And Jesus, wow, He loves you so much, over the top loves you!  He did it all for you…left Heaven, became a man so he could feel all we feel, and then he went to the cross, made a conscious choice to die a horrible death – all for you, for me, for all of us.

It’s always a choice.  Make a choice today to forgive others, forgive yourself, and read that letter God put on the Christmas tree for you.  He wants you to know how special you are, what your true identity is, and how much he loves you.

John 1:12-13                       Ephesians 2:8-9                 Romans 6:11                      John 17:19

2 Corinthians 5:17            1 Peter 2:9                          2 Cor 5:19                            John 8:36

Eph 1:4                                 Eph 1:6                                 Eph 4:32                               Eph 2:10
John 16:33                           Hebrews 13:5                    1 Peter 5:10                        Romans 3:22

 

And…have a Happy New Year knowing you’re loved by the Creator of the Universe, the One who conquered death, the One who is making all things New…including you!

Stacey Ray

Stacey is the mother to four sons ages 15 to 21, and the wife to Rex, one very understanding husband.  Stacey has a passion to help people become the best that they can be and she currently does that as a community college instructor in psychology and human development.  With this same passion in mind, her family supports many other outreaches including Children’s Vision in Bogota, Columbia (an orphanage and school) and She is Safe, India (a ministry empowering women and children to avoid human trafficking by giving them value and worth in their communities). Originally from California, Stacey and her family currently make their home in northern Minnesota where they are actively involved in their church’s mission of seeing real people make real change. Stacey’s favorite quote is by Chip Ingram:  “I am nothing without Jesus. But in Him and through Him I can do great things!”
Stacey is the mother to four sons ages 15 to 21, and the wife to Rex, one very understanding husband. Stacey has a passion to help people become the best that they can be and she currently does that as a community college instructor in psychology and human development. With this same passion in mind, her family supports many other outreaches including Children’s Vision in Bogota, Columbia (an orphanage and school) and She is Safe, India (a ministry empowering women and children to avoid human trafficking by giving them value and worth in their communities). Originally from California, Stacey and her family currently make their home in northern Minnesota where they are actively involved in their church’s mission of seeing real people make real change. Stacey’s favorite quote is by Chip Ingram: “I am nothing without Jesus. But in Him and through Him I can do great things!”

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