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Friday, December 25, 2015

5 lessons this Christmas

This Christmas has been a little different than Christmas's past.  I guess they're all different in a way, but this one has seemed different in more ways than one and I wanted to share what I've learned.

1.  This is more of a silly one...but one nonetheless.  This was my first Christmas working in our church and the lesson I re-learned this year is to BE CREATIVE :)  Or, to think outside the box.  And maybe also to be flexible :) I started something new at the church (which I've done at other churches but not here) called Advent angels.  I don't know how others felt, but I had a blast :) Also, I had to be creative in coming up with a way to make more angel costumes without it taking forever (or costing a lot).  Thank you Dollar Store :)  $2 a pair and 5 minutes per set of wings :) I'll have to post a pic later :)  I enjoyed the season immensely and thank God for the opportunities He has given me!
2. On a more serious note, I learned to not put important things off...and NOT TO WAIT.  A very sweet lady at our church passed away about a week before Christmas.  She was the first one to open up her house to us when we moved here.  She lived in a retirement home but that mattered not.  You can still be hospitable and kind no matter the environment.  She also had a faith that was so strong she witnessed to people not only in life, but even more so in death.

After we moved into our new home, she wanted to come over and see our house - because she knew the people who owned it before us, and because, well, she loved us :)  But it was never a good time and we kept putting it off...and now we've lost our chance.

3.  This wonderful lady showed me something else this season.  You see, yesterday, we received her Christmas card <3  She had them all ready to go but they hadn't been sent yet - so her children did it for her :)  To get a card from her, after her passing...well, it was surreal and amazing.  I'll share her words from her note with you, "Christmas is almost here but amid all the activities, obligations and celebrations, my priority is getting in touch with each of you..."  And her card said, "A time for telling the special people in our lives they are fondly remembered, cherished, and loved today and all year through."  REMEMBER YOUR LOVED ONES.

4.  OPEN YOUR EYES.  We have shared a few "firsts" with our children this advent season.  One, we watched "The Nativity" movie with them for the first time.  I also hadn't seen it in a few years.  Second, we watched "The Miracle of Christmas" at Sight and Sound Theater. Both times, I watched and listened to the birth story as if for the first time...hearing nuances I hadn't heard before, seeing details that I had missed or forgotten.  It's easy to glaze over something you've heard many times...but try to hear and see the story with fresh eyes and a renewed interest.  Feel Mary's pain when she was shunned, feel Joseph's frustration and bewilderment when he finds out, rejoice when the angel tells Joseph, feel the sense of urgency and helplessness when Joseph can't find a place for them to stay, watch the shepherds' stunned faces that turn into delight and then pure joy as they encounter the angels...The story is a myriad of emotions - let yourself get swept away in them and see them with new eyes.

5.  BE THANKFUL AND COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS.  As many of you know, Noe's grandmother passed away yesterday.  It was unexpected and his family had to make quick preparations.  Without going in to detail, the funeral had to be set for Saturday which meant we had to make a very quick decision on what he would do.  He had no doubt - he had to go.  Despite the fact that we didn't have the money to pay for the entire ticket, we bought it anyway.  Then a voice in my head told me to ask for help.  Noe has been a blessing to me, our children and so many other people I knew that if I asked for help, it would come.  I just knew.  God is good that way.  Giving us hope when we feel hopeless.  I had no idea what to expect, but we collected over half the cost of the ticket in less than 24 hours and he left with a smile on his face and relief in his heart.  There have been some struggles this Christmas, but we have so much to be thankful for...including our wonderful friends and family.  The Juarez household may have an empty chair tomorrow morning when we wake up on Christmas, but I know that chair will soon be filled again.  Many people don't have that hope.  Please keep them in your prayers this Christmas.

God bless everyone this Christmas season and may God shower you with love, joy and hope next year :)

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