We Have a Choice

main image

Advent brings back many fond memories for me, does it for you?

I remember decorating our home with our Nativity set and an Advent wreath. One of my favorite memories was the Advent calendar which helped count down the days and also offered a bit of chocolate as a reward. There were the catalogs that came in the mail, and searching through them for what I hoped to receive for Christmas. Most of all, I recall a time of great anticipation and preparation for the birth of Jesus, and well, there was Santa too.

The gospel stories tell of that same anticipation and preparation. They remind us of God’s plan for our salvation. The plan where His love, so pure and freely given, sent the Word made flesh, Jesus, to save us. I think it’s easy to fall into a rhythm of life where Christmas comes and goes, and the stress of life can cloud our vision and dampen our enthusiasm of this amazing gift. The stories encourage us to not let anything get in the way of our anticipation and preparation.

  • Are you heading into this season with anticipation and excitement, just as a child?
  • Are you allowing your anxieties to dampen your enthusiasm?
  • Will you let the Christmas parties, shopping, decorations, concerts, Christmas cards, and stress obscure the most beautiful gift ever given?

We have a choice.

That gift is the Son from the Father. A gift given solely because He loves us and wants to spend eternity with us. That is something worth all the anticipation and preparation we can muster. Let the mystery of what has occurred, and is yet to occur, shape our daily life.

A Grateful Heart

main image

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” - Psalm 107:1

I’ve become very good at asking God for things. My prayers are filled with requests for a variety of areas of my life. But what about gratitude? Do I always tell God how much I appreciate what He does for me?

Beginning this Thanksgiving, I am taking on a daily challenge: I want to develop a grateful heart. The challenge will be simple:

Every single day I will find a quiet moment and choose one thing for which I’m grateful. I will then use that moment to say a short prayer and thank God. My goal each day is to have a unique focus of gratitude with no duplication. I’ll keep a small notebook to keep track of things.

I’m hoping the result will be a new habit—my way of consistently discovering things that I value in life. I want God to know that I appreciate everything He does for me every single day. In one year's time, I hope to have a list of 365 things I’m grateful for. And I will have developed a grateful heart.

Won’t you join me?

The Blessing Box

main image

One of our family Thanksgiving traditions is the Blessing Box. The concept is simple. As family members arrive, they take a moment to write down on a colorful strip of paper the one thing they are most thankful for from the past year. These written blessings are placed in the Blessing Box. Just before dinner, the collected strips are distributed randomly among the guests. We circle around in anticipation of the sharing and begin with “May the blessings of one be the blessings of all.” Then we take turns reading what is on each slip. When the circle of sharing is complete, we say the meal prayer.

We were blessed with Elmo, “blankies”, and school when the children were younger. As the years go by, our blessings are becoming more profound and sentimental. Each year, these collected blessings are placed in scrapbooks. The scrapbooks have become part of the Thanksgiving tradition as well. It is fun to look back on pictures of dearly departed family members and their blessings written in their handwriting. These little nuggets of history begin “remember when” conversations that knit our family tighter together, and when we do have guests join us, they become part of our story too.

Posted by Jill Fischer