Hello & Merry Christmas from the beautiful Western Slope of Colorado! We hope that wherever you find yourself today, you are able to enjoy the peace of Jesus and the promise of hope because LOVE came down for you and for me!
“But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped tightly in cloth and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12 CSB
What a blessing that we get to be connected in Christ across all of the miles and across so many blog posts! You dear friends, are some of my very favorite gifts!
It’s a cold and frosty morning here on the Western Slope of Colorado and right outside of my dining room window, I can see the twinkling lights we set up last night on our bushes. I know- it’s a little late, but there are just some things that I wanted to be sure we still accomplished this season. Setting up Christmas lights outside of the house always brings a smile to my face. It brings light and joy to my neighborhood that is usually pretty dark at night. I love to see strands of lights all over the houses. At Christmastime, seeing those small glimmers of light in the neighborhood helps us to keep going down the street to discover more, and it also helps us keep going on our journey as we keep trusting that there is more light ahead.
The holidays can often feel dark and dreary for some. And when I say some, I include myself in that lot. Maybe the loss is still a little too fresh to your heart. Maybe the last interaction you had with an estranged loved one didn’t go the way you planned. You might even feel disconnected from the season because it holds more difficult memories and burdens from years past. Whether it’s an absence due to the loss of a loved one or the empty seat because a loved one hasn’t come home for many years – it can make us question what is so wonderful about Christmas. On this cold morning, I wanted to bring some hope to our hearts. This season is still wonderful – Not because of what we currently feel, what’s under the tree, or even what we have checked off from a holiday list. No, Christmas is wonderful because of Who is with us through it all.
If this holiday season feels dark because of the shadow of grief or maybe even because of what life has thrown your way, I encourage you to look for the little bits of light around you today. Let’s look for the trail of hope that God Himself has set out before us in big and small ways – the hope for the hurting heart is real and available for us today. Like the string of lights beneath my windowpane, God has placed light and hope right in front of us at the exact right moments to lift our spirit. We don’t have to walk through grief alone this holiday season. We can reach out to friends for encouragement and prayer but even more importantly, we can call out to The Lord. I’m so thankful to God for the invitation He gives us to bring our burdens to Him.
This Christmas, we get to celebrate the birth of Jesus because He came down and lived, shared in our sufferings and understands our sorrows, and He experienced death so that we could have salvation from sin and have a new life in Him. God’s greatest gift to us was and still is Jesus – Emmanuel, God With Us.
He is with us right in the middle of the ache and in the middle of the tears that still fall.
He is with us in the middle of the celebrations that come with both joy and sadness because of who is around us and who is no longer here.
He is with us when the season doesn’t feel all that wonderful and even when it does.
He is the One that is Wonderful this Christmas season.
He is the One Who walks with us in the middle of the beautiful and the broken.
He is the One who sees the condition of our heart and comes to apply compassionate love and restores our joy.
He is with us friend.
He is the Light in our darkness the hope of the world.
He is still Wonderful this Christmas.
He is all that we were promised He would be:
“For a child will be born for us,
a son will be given to us,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
He will be named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
The dominion will be vast,
and its prosperity will never end.
He will reign on the throne of David
and over his kingdom,
to establish and sustain it
with justice and righteousness from now on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord of Armies will accomplish this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7 CSB)
So when the season doesn’t feel so wonderful, let’s remember that He is still wonderful. Not only is He wonderful, He’s able to make our spirits bright with His love and light.
Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, we come before you today in the name of Your Son Jesus, and we bring you all of our hearts. All of the ache and all of the heaviness we place in your loving and compassionate hands. We want to cast our cares upon You because we know that You care for us. Lord, we ask You to shine Your Light on our hearts when the darkness and heaviness sets in. Thank You for the promise that You are a shelter for the weak and a strong tower that we can run to when we need security and peace of mind. God, remind us today that You are still wonderful and powerful and able to bring peace to our souls in the midst of the season. You are so kind to walk with us through all that we experience in this life, and Lord, we thank You for your presence right here with us. Thank You Lord. Amen.
Go The Extra Mile: Friends, I had to share this song with you today. It has been a comfort to me this season, so please take time today to listen to this song from one of my favorite bands, CAIN, and I pray your heart would be reminded of how wonderful God is.
It’s Christmas morning here on the Western Slope is Colorado, and though I wish I could say we are experiencing a snowy white Christmas, we aren’t :). It’s still beautiful; sunny outside with a chill in the air, and warm and cozy here in the house.
There are a several things this season that aren’t quite how we wish they would be due to the year we are all experiencing together. I don’t even have to go through the list of things that aren’t like Christmas last year because we all know what the list is and feel the ache of longing to be with loved ones and celebrating in big gatherings, etc.
But this year, my hope is that we will take time amidst this different kind of Christmas- time to reflect on the good things we have right in front of us, and, time to be great Gil for the family and friends who are still with us (whether in our homes or a phone call or Zoom away). I also hope we’ll take time to remember the loved ones who ran their race and walked into eternity during 2020 as well as their loved ones who still remain here.
It’s a time for celebrating and remembering Our Savior’s birth. He came into the world that was very much dark and longing for things to be made right. In fact, that’s the whole story of creation- knowing that things aren’t as they should be, and aching for the time when they’ll be made new again.
Today, I’m so grateful that Our Jesus came to this earth- right into the middle of our mess and our struggle and He became Immanuel- God WITH us.
He’s with us friend.
In the messy, the momentous, and the mundane- He is with us. In the broken, the beautiful and the blessed- He is with us. In the longing…through it all He is with us.
Friend, I pray that wherever you find yourself today, that you’d be reminded of His presence so very near to us all today. Right where you are, that’s where He is.
He is Jesus, Immanuel, dwelling with us and hearing every prayer and seeing every need this Christmas Day.
May your day be filled with the reminder of His love for you, His care of you and His peace over you.
Let’s Pray: Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for the gift of your presence today. Thank you for the ache that tells us things aren’t the way they should be, because it’s the reminder that you will make all things right again one day soon. Thank you for stepping into this broken world so that you could bring redemption and hope. Thank you that you are right here with us in and through every bit of this life. Help our hearts to cling to the promise that you are with us, even to the end of the age. Amen.
2020 has been hard to say the least. I think everyone could attest to this being one of the roughest years full of trials and frustrations. For some of us our 2020 actually began in 2018 or 2008 or our whole lives; and let’s be honest, we may not even have hope that the next 5-10 years will be any different.
Many of us have posted 2020 woes on social media or at the very least shared a meme. It is very difficult to post every moment of our lives so most posts are highlights of our good and bad, but mostly good because that is how we want to remember; and let’s be real, that is how we want others to see us.
2020 for me has been full of joy, struggles, and downright raw, painful events. I gave birth to my first child and he has consumed 98% percent of my time. When I get the chance to post, it is mostly about a baby milestone. But what the majority of my followers do not see are the sleepless nights, the trips to the doctor because something is wrong, the maybe once a week “real” shower with hot water and shampoo, the frustration of trying to take care of the house and work from home simultaneously. There are even events that honestly are just too painful to even want to post. And in the most vulnerable moments of chaos, the thoughts of, “Am I really in God’s will?” or “Did He put me in this position only to watch me struggle in another hardship?” rises to the surface of my mind.
Because I have a child who is 3 weeks from his first birthday, I think a lot of what it was like for Mary, the mother of Jesus. We have the “posts” in the Bible about the birth and the manger. We hear of angels singing and the wise men bearing gifts. But I wonder if Mary ever thought, “How can I raise this Son of God when I can’t even get him to sleep through the night?”, “We just got into a routine in our new home and now we have to leave our belongings and flee in the night to become refugees all because someone is trying to kill my son?”, “Is this what God really envisioned for my life?”, “Is it always going to be like this?”
The Bible picks up with a snapshot of a worried mother losing her 12 year old son and doesn’t post again until he is in his 30’s going to a wedding performing a miracle. Imagine all those years of joys and sorrows, confidence and doubt that we never get to see. And as her son grew and became the man God promised, she began to see those initial doubts disappear.
I don’t think it was any easier for her though as he grew up knowing people hated him or watching him stumble to the hill where he would die. I’m sure her thoughts and prayers were the same as when all the hype of his birth subsided. But she got to see the beginning of a changed world because of everything she endured. Now I know many people can say, “But he is the Son of God and nothing was going to stop it”; but imagine for a moment if he was not. What a legacy to leave, raising a son who is still talked about 2000 years later. A son whose name causes riots and wars, who brings peace and comfort, who has so much power that it cannot be used on prime time tv as a curse word.
Take courage my friend. This year, these moments will not last forever. You may question God and it’s okay. But know the big picture is in his hands. Don’t forget 2020, but let it be a reminder that greater things are to come. Work diligently to fulfill your calling. Merry Christmas!
-Melissa Atencio – Colmenero
Friends, I was seriously blessed when I read through Melissa’s message to us today. I’m so grateful for her perspective and for her support of the blog and this writing adventure of mine. I find myself reflecting over 2020 and sharing those same experiences that have made this season both different and challenging. I also find myself clinging to the hope that we have in Jesus just like Melissa talked about – because He sees the bigger picture. I thought it would be fitting that we share this song from Francesca Batestelli with you today. My prayer is that we have the same heart that is shared from the point of view as Mary, the mother of Jesus. I hope it encourages you as you move through this season. peace-liz:)