During this holiday season, I’m going to be re-sharing my ‘Homespun Christmas‘ series from last year, which I feel is still relevant. I also have more beautiful photographs of my Christmas décor to share, that reflects the warmth and peace which I hope to convey.
While making your preparations for annual holiday gatherings, writing down gift shopping lists, and anticipating all the yummy Christmas goodies which we reserve for these special days, don’t forget to add some quiet times of reflection to your to-do list. For at least a few moments, let your mind be transported to a place of tranquility, where hope and peace resides.
We all enjoy receiving something brand new at Christmas time, but perhaps our most lasting gift this year could be something of an entirely different nature.
Something we could gift to ourselves:
a new mindset that says “I am enough” & “I am loved”
a new perspective as we take a step back and look at our lives with fresh eyes
permission to take care of ourselves so that we can be better equipped to care for those we love
permission to show kindness & compassion toward ourselves in the same way we bestow those things on others, not in an egotistical way, but because as we find self-acceptance, we can then take our eyes off of ourselves and truly be a help to others, which is the greatest gift we can give
a new beginning, as we fully embrace the gift of salvation from our Saviour, Jesus Christ, the One who loves us more than we can ever comprehend
As the outside world around me whirls and spins seemingly out of control, my mind gets caught up in the many uncertainties displayed constantly in the news, on social media, and sometimes locally. I’m quite sure that the good in the world still far outweighs the bad, but it gets so lost among all the controversy which seems to be the preferred topic in the current news.
But as the Thanksgiving gatherings continue and time slows just a bit for another couple of days, I would like to share these thoughts with you as I reflect on some of the things I am thankful for. As you read this, I pray that your heart will be inspired to take a moment to count your blessings. They may be obscured and difficult to recall at first, but as you search through your blessings bank, I’m confident that you will be able to find many, many deposits of goodness and joy, as even the smallest of these is worthy to be noted.
I’m thankful for our home, not just because we love the quaint, vintage feel of it, but because in these walls we are building precious memories as our children, grandchildren and friends fill it with love and laughter.
Though the political & social struggles of this country weigh heavy on my heart, I am still so very thankful to live in America and wouldn’t change it for anything.
Some of the most simple and trivial things also give me pause to be thankful. Like the $7.50 vintage rocking chair (our recent thrift-store find) in which I am currently sitting, and where I now sit every morning as I enjoy my coffee. Oh yes! I am so thankful for coffee!
Today, I am most thankful for the loving mercy of my Lord, Jesus Christ. He tells me in His Word that His mercies are new every morning. Another day to seek Him, another moment to humbly receive His forgiveness for my failures and mistakes and to begin anew to grow deeper in this relationship with my Creator. Every day a new opportunity to reflect Him and pass along the love of God.
As I ponder my list of things to be thankful for, I notice that I didn’t have to look very far from me. Because the things most important to us are usually the things we keep the closest to our hearts.
It’s always interesting around this time of the year, to see the display of Halloween costumes in the stores. There are the classic & timeless princess costumes, Spiderman & Superman attire, the witch & ghost get-ups. I think they even still sell the cute & simple plastic masks that I remember wearing as a child. For one night, you can pretend to be whoever or whatever you want to be. (That’s my Mother’s prize-winning pumpkin in the photo, along with my brother, sister and myself in the really creepy costumes!)
But now, walking through the isles and seeing the huge variety of scary masks is like experiencing an all-out hall of horrors! There are some that will make you cringe and want to look away. Some that will bring some of Hollywood’s most notorious villains back to life, and some that will cause you to cover your child’s eyes as you quickly guide them away, hoping they didn’t see enough graphic images to cause them nightmares!
It makes me wonder, metaphorically & spiritually speaking, what our individual walls of masks would look like. I can envision myself opening the double doors of my walk-in closet, entering and pausing as I scan the variety of masks I’ve accumulated over the years. How do we decide which mask to choose?
Are we trying to impress someone? Are we choosing the one which we think will be most accepted by the society which seems to dictate so many things about how we should look and what we should feel?
Much of the time, yes, unfortunately. Or we want so badly to be able to wear the mask that looks so fabulous on that other person, so we keep trying to make it fit.
As if the mass-produced, plastic images of modern-day society are a one-size-fits-all solution to the sufferings of mankind. If conforming to the ideologies of this world were truly the answer, then ‘world peace’ would no longer be just an out of reach dream.
No matter which mask we, or I, choose to put on, it can never truly change what’s inside, for it is truly a matter of the heart. Every circumstance and life experience has a part in shaping who we become and what we reflect. I fear that there are some in this world whose hearts are indeed so callous and hardened that the mask of horror that they wear is not a mask at all. God help us.
If you turn those man-made masks over and look at the label, it will say ‘Made in _____’. Perhaps our own plastic masks should read ‘made by the unpredictable & complicated undertakings of life’.
But on our original, unchangeable label we would see “Made with Love, by God“, printed out before the world was created, before we were formed, and before we took our first breath. In Him is where we began, and in Him is where we will truly find the answers to our questions: “Who am I?” “When will I find peace?” “When will I no longer have to wear a mask?” It is in His love & forgiveness & acceptance that we will find our true person, who would never again feel the need to put on a false mask.
I’ll be honest with you (as I take off my “got it all together ” mask), there are many days I still reach for my masks while longing for the day when I no longer have to hide behind them. I’m still searching for answers to all those questions, but I know that looking for them within myself or anywhere on this earth is futile. My answers are found in my God, who knows me better than I know myself.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2
The answers, my friend, are found in the One who created you, and you never have to wear a mask for Him.