Tag Archives: Christmas

Day 361: Things Remembered – Things Forgotten

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A sparkling ornament holds a memory to shine or to put away.

“Every man’s memory is his private literature.” Aldous Huxley

Seeing the tiny elves again drew a smile on my face.  I’m not even sure of the memory I associate with it because it has grown in size.  I don’t know where to start thinking back.  With the ornament in my hand, I embrace feelings of hope, joy, and warmth.

A box of Christmas ornaments holds more than decorative pieces.  As we hang each one, a plethora of memories flow through our heads.  The associations are likely different for each person.

Recently, my children shared how they hung ornaments for their grandmother.  The tree was completely weighed down, yet the memories behind the ornaments were important to her.  None could be left in the box.

Today, we will begin taking down the tree.  We’ll keep the ornaments safely in their places.  What sorts of inspiration will they provide for our new year?

Family – Some ornaments remind me of my family and of the close connections we shared.  It reminds me of simple times when we ate cornbread, cream potatoes, and sat together at the table.  Like an ornament, we choose which memories are best to keep and which ones are best to throw away.

Friends – We came across an ornament of our first year of marriage given to us by a special friend.  It reminded me of a different period of life.  How exciting that time when we were working and learning to love each other daily.  We had another set of friends then.  We are still connected with many of these friends.  It made the difficult times easy to forget.

Hopes – Sometimes ornaments remind us of a hope we have lost.  Perhaps we’ve lost the joy that we once held daily.  Ornaments can trigger a memory that can help us change our present.  Bringing back the hope into our lives can be a gift in disguise.

Dreams – As time moves onward, we often abandon dreams which were either foolish or forgotten.  With each ornament, the dreams we wish to shine up and pursue again can be a treasured challenge.  We can also realize our need to abandon a dream for something even better.  Age and wisdom can help us know which to keep and which to discard.

If these ornaments connect our past and present, they are meaningful.  Yet, if we allow an associated memory to propel our future, then we have captured their great value.

What ornament holds special meaning for you?

Day 358: Merry Christmas From The Land Of Smiles

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Even the plants are displaying their Christmas colors.

“A gentle word, a kind look, a good-natured smile can work wonders and accomplish miracles.” William Hazlitt

Being in Thailand on Christmas is always a highlight.  The weather is nice. The Christmas lights are beautiful, and walking downtown puts a smile on my face.  Here, we get to celebrate with family and friends, and we have a chance to tell the meaning of Christmas to many who want to know.

A few nights ago, we met with a group of friends we call family along with our two daughters.  We missed our son, but it was a cozy time as we each shared what God has done to encourage us this year.

Christmas is not white in Thailand, but I love the tenacity of our Thai brothers and sisters.  We’ve been through a lot together with the severe flooding this year, the Tsunami that came the day after Christmas several years ago, and the political troubles we had last year.  Through it all, the Thai people remain kind, patient, and full of smiles.

Whether we sing near an open fire or with palm trees swaying, we’ll remember the importance of family and friends.  May the Lord speak personally to each of us today as we prepare our hearts for celebrating the coming of the Christ child.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Celebration

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Life is short: celebrate often!

“Celebrate what you want to see more of.” Tom Peters

Today is our yearly Christmas concert.  It is a difficult time of the year for the students and teachers because everyone spends hours sitting “somewhat” quietly in the auditorium between scenes.  Students get a load of commands barked at them within the few minutes they are on and off the stage.  “Quiet!”  “Sing Loudly!” “Quit laughing with your friend!” “Smile!” “Walk softly!”  “Stop running!” “No hitting!”

Is it worth all of the time and effort, and for what reasons do we celebrate?  Yes, it’s worthwhile, and here are a few of my reasons for celebration.

Children learn when they perform:  Each time children perform, they gain confidence for future endeavors.  Putting a child on stage helps build the whole child.  I’ve seen some brilliant adults who were never taught to perform.  The result is an awkward presenter, with an even more awkward audience.  That’s one reason I love to put children on a stage.

Parents see the culmination of the learning: The Christmas celebration at school allows children to express themselves in a different way than normal.  Some students who are unable to show their talent on a written test, might shine on the stage.  When parents get a chance to see the whole picture of their child, including their abilities in the arts, they can better understand how to help prepare them for the future.

The reason for the celebration is important: Ultimately, we celebrate the birth of Jesus, who spent His first hours in a simple stable.  It was not the usual arrival of a king, but that is the way of God’s kingdom.  Shepherds celebrated his birth, and that lowly birth allows us to celebrate life.

As you prepare for Christmas day, remember why you are celebrating. Watching performances, completing Christmas shopping, and spending time with your family and friends can all be celebrations.  May His gift of life shine through you as you move through each day of the season!  It’s time to celebrate life!

Day 345: Bread From Afar

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"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." Jesus Christ

Yesterday, my husband got a gift from some dear friends.  It was no easy task to get it either since the family traveled from Japan via. Australia to Thailand. They arrived bearing a special gift of Brumby’s Bread from “Down Under.”  Would I dare share a piece of this bread my husband offered me?  …Not on my life.  This gift was bought with love, a lot of trouble, and at a fine price.  I want him to savor every bite.

At Christmas time, we are reminded of the many sacrifices made for us.  How dare we take for granted this gift of life? This week, my husband and I have been reminded of the many people living in bondage.  We’ve been given so much, but an unfair world prevents many from having even basic human rights.  Some are in prison because they flee to us for safety.  Some are separated from family members for no just cause.  Some are tortured, and some have no home.

More than 2,000 years ago, a young family traveled a distance to bring Jesus to His rightful birthplace in Bethlehem.  Following the law, they arrived in their home city to be taxed.  They were without close family, a decent place to lay the head of our Lord, and proper medicine.

This bread of life gives us hope, regardless of our circumstances.  It opens doors and sets captives free.  May we have an open heart to accept this gift of life and to give it to others.

“Grace is available for each of us every day – our spiritual daily bread – but we’ve got to remember to ask for it with a grateful heart and not worry about whether there will be enough for tomorrow.” Sarah Ban Breathnach