This time last year, it was the day before Christmas Eve and my heart was anxious and heavy. The ornaments were not even on the tree, but I had managed to get the lights on. I always put up our family ornaments each year . . . gifts from friends and family. Ornaments my kids made in preschool classes at our church, many with their pictures pasted on them. Somehow I had not been able to do it. Everything felt so different, and heavy. I felt so sad.

Christmas Eve 2019 meant my husband and oldest son would be flying across the country for a court appearance on the 23rd, and then flying back home on the 24th. I had to ask God about this, because of all times . . . I just didn’t understand. We were facing things I could have never dreamed would be a reality for our family. How could my heart feel the Joy of Christmas with so much weighing us down?

Look to God not circumstances.

God’s ways are not our ways. Trust Him.

We came in from church on Sunday Dec. 22, grabbed lunch and then got ready to see them out the door, because they would spend the night in Atlanta then fly out early on the 23rd to make court later that day. Just as they were getting their bags together and preparing to leave, I went to my Christmas tree and began to put ornaments on it. The timing might have seemed a bit odd – to be energized at that moment, but God gave me a different perspective all of a sudden. Faith overcame fears. I laid my stones of remembrance with each ornament. I spoke life and truth over my family as I placed each ornament on that tree. My heart was filled with hope and joy as I looked to a future full of the goodness of God, full of promise and purpose, even in pain. God was with us. Every. Single. Step.

Those Remembrance stones came out of the deepest part of the journey, the middle.

Never again, will I decorate my Christmas tree without speaking life over my family and giving thanks to God for all He has done and IS doing. It has become a time to worship as I work. It has become a symbol of Hope and eternal Joy!

Perspective changes everything! Preach to yourself the Truth.

Speak life! Never give up. Give thanks in all things for this is God’s will for you who are in Christ Jesus. Lay stones of remembrance. Never forget what God has done.

The following is what I wrote early in December of 2019 as we waited in the middle of a very difficult year . . .

Working on my advent study . . . Waiting on God in so many ways . . . Watching to see what God will do . . . Wondering in expectation and joy . . . Willing to follow Jesus wherever He leads . . . Worshipping in the in between.

In many ways Christmas 2019 was the best Christmas we’ve ever had. It was also one of the hardest. Christmas 2020 is full of its own struggles. But God is working in ways we don’t understand and can’t see right now. I have to trust Him and not my feelings or how things look. Because some days it’s just hard. And I don’t get it all right, I fail miserably. I let my feelings rule. I look at circumstances and listen to the lies in my head. My flesh leads me and it’s just a disaster.

The enemy of our soul wants us to believe we are defeated and there is no hope for us. But that is far from the truth.

Because of Jesus. We are not slave to sin. There is Hope for us!

God brought Jesus into this world to save us. But think about HOW He did it. WHO he used and WHERE things happened.

He used the most unlikely people. In the most unlikely places.

What this world often disregards and looks down on, God sees and often chooses to use for His glory. Unlikely people. Unlikely places.

Mary’s journey took courage. We need to see how courageous she was as she joyfully accepted God’s will for her life. Her obedience was going to cost her. She chose to lay down expectations, her own desires and even her reputation. Just think about what it meant for her to say YES to God. Showing up pregnant and not married in her culture. What faith she demonstrated as she trusted God with all the details and just said YES. Mary lived out her purpose, was abundantly blessed and God glorified. All because she did not let fear overcome her faith.

Fear will keep us from experiencing all that God has created us to be. Sometimes we just have to follow with reckless abandon and jump in not knowing anything other than God is with us. And that has to be enough.

Mary walked an unknown journey and gave us Jesus. He didn’t have to be born in a barn, to a poor young couple. Jesus, who didn’t have to die as a criminal, on a cross . . . to save us . . . but He did. And I’m so thankful He came.

And He is coming again.

So today, let’s encourage each other to not grow weary and give up. Let’s remind each other of the joy to come for those who persevere and keep the faith. Let’s keep confessing and repenting to one another so that we bear the fruit of repentance and live fruitful, purposeful lives. Let’s remember all that God has done for us, all that He is doing. Let’s worship as we wait!

Has God challenged you to believe Him for certain things in your life? Is there something He is calling you to do . . . or something He is calling you to stop doing? The thing that matters most is our relationship with Him! What in your life is crowding that out?

Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill what He has spoken to her. Luke 1:45

I might not know what tomorrow holds, and that’s okay. Because I know that whatever comes, God is with us. And I know He is faithful to His promises. I know He will never fail us. The sin of doubt tries to crowd out our faith, but don’t fall for it. Do not waver in unbelief! Just as Abraham believed God, we too, must choose to believe that God has the power to do what He has promised. And He will do it. At the right time. In the right way.

Emmanuel. God with us.

Friend, whatever you are facing this Christmas – He’s there and He is faithful. Those who hope in Him, will never be put to shame. Now that’s a promise I’m holding on to.

Merry Christmas!

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