I am not a coffee person. I know! I know! You probably think there is something seriously wrong with me! Well, I have tried it many different ways but cannot get past the coffee taste. For me, the coffee bean is not flavorful. Although coffee is not for me, I do think that people who drink coffee look sophisticated. I am very impressed when I hear folks speak the “coffee language” because I have no idea what they are talking about. Coffee people understand the differences between Mochas, Iced Coffees, Cappuccinos, Cafe au Laits, Frappes, Macchiatos, Lattes, and Espressos. Just thinking about it makes me dizzy. Just look at this menu below:
No, I am not a coffee person. My favorite cold weather beverage is hot chocolate! YUMMMMM! When it is loaded down with marshmallows and whipped cream, I am one happy camper. I love a cold night when I can wear my fuzzy wool socks, put on my soft, comfy pajamas, and have my favorite mug full to the brim with that warm delicious drink from heaven. It is something I look forward to as the Christmas season approaches.
What do you look forward to as Christmas gets closer?
Many of us get excited when we pull the Christmas decorations out of the attic and begin putting together our own winter wonderland. We look forward to finding that perfect gift for our loved ones and we smile when we hear Christmas music on the radio. We often sing, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, but for many people, the Christmas season is not the most wonderful time of the year. For many people, Christmas is full of painful memories, loss and sadness.
My Mother-in-law was admitted into the hospice unit at Presbyterian Hospital the day before Christmas Eve many years ago. All she wanted was to spend one last Christmas at home with her family, but instead, she was rushed to the hospital in respiratory distress because the cancer had spread violently to her lungs. So that year for Christmas, we all crammed into a small hospital room and spent Christmas listening to the sound of a breathing machine while nurses and physicians came in and out every hour to check her. She was jaundiced, weak and unable to speak clearly. She was dying. We set up a tiny Christmas tree in her room. We held hands, we prayed, we cried, and we told her how much we loved her. Just as we had done for seven years, our family pleaded with God for healing, but in His sovereignty, He chose not to heal her. She died at the age of 46.
Our family had Jesus with us each step of the way that Christmas. He never left us. He was there to comfort us. He was there to love us. He was our strength and our joy.
For many this Christmas season, there is no joy because they do not know the giver of joy. There is no hope because they have never met the one who brings hope into this lost world.
This Christmas season, I hope you and I will pay close attention to those in our midst who are struggling with sadness and pain. I hope we will not turn a blind eye to them, but instead, I pray we see their needs and step into their lives to bring HOPE. We can bring hope to them because we know the HOPE of the world! We need to tell them that God sent His son into our world to save us. We need to tell them that Jesus is HOPE. He is LOVE. He is JOY. He gives us every reason to smile and sing, regardless of our painful past.
If someone you know is hurting this Christmas season, I encourage you to reach out to them in a special way this year. Invite them to be a part of your family tradition or ask them to come share a cup of coffee or hot chocolate with you. However you reach out to them this season, just be sure to tell them about your amazing Savior, Jesus, the one who gives life everlasting.
Merry Christmas to you, my friend!
I hope you are you geared up for the Christmas season because it is here! We will be baking, cooking, decorating and we cannot escape the CLEANING we will be doing. Sometimes I wish I could be like Mary Poppins. If only I could sing “Spoonful of Sugar” and smile as all of the dirty dishes wash and put themselves away. For most of us, life requires hard work and sometimes we do not feel like doing the work.
In the book of Luke, Jesus visits Martha and Mary. Martha is busy working. She is preparing an important meal for Jesus. As she slaves away in the kitchen, she is frustrated with her sister Mary because instead of helping with preparations, Mary is spending time with Jesus.
“As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me. ”But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” ~Luke 10:38-42 (NLT)
Can’t you just imagine the scene? Martha is busy running around getting everything ready for this important meal and there sits Mary—lounging by the feet of Jesus. Martha was not a happy camper.
I can relate to Martha. Can you? I know what it is like to prepare for a large gathering. I want everything to be perfect so I work and work until it is just the way I want it to be. There is nothing wrong with hard work, but when it prevents you and me from focusing on what really matters, then we have a problem. You see, Martha was so busy working FOR Jesus that she abandoned spending time WITH Jesus.
This can be the case for us too.
As followers of Christ, we often have good intentions. We help out at church by serving on different committees. We may lead a small group Bible study or sing in the choir. This type of work is so important but we must be careful that we do not get so busy working FOR Jesus that we fail to spend time WITH Jesus.
This time of year, there is much to do. Cooking, decorating and cleaning are usually a part of our holiday celebrations because we want everything to be “just right”. My friend, we need to be careful. We can pile too much on our plates or set our expectations of the holidays so high that we miss the whole point of celebrating in the first place.
This year, I hope you and I will reflect on the story of Martha and Mary and find encouragement from how Mary responded to Jesus. She was desperate to be in His presence. She listened to Him with an open heart and she was grateful for what He had done for her.
May we embrace the this Christmas season and worry less about how the food around our table tastes or how the house looks. Instead, let us focus more on spending time with our Lord and Savior and the people we love.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” ~1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV)
Giving thanks for you!
Recently, I sat down and interviewed Collin Smith, a recent graduate of High Point University. Last spring, I saw his story on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer. Take a look:
I was so intrigued by Collin’s story, that I wanted to meet him! His story is one that will inspire you to keep persevering when life throws you hard circumstances. Collin is a young man with ambition! He has heart! He has courage! I asked him to write a guest blog for Joytime. In his own words, his encouragement to you is below:
Picture your life as it is now, all the things you have going, on good and bad, the
things you enjoy and the things you don’t. Imagine what it would be like to have to
find new things and leave all the other things behind, never to do them again. I
found myself in that very situation, a three sport athlete starting high school. My life
consisted of God, family and sports. Balancing priorities in life is always tough, and I
was about to get a lesson in which ones to place in the right spots.
On August 19, 2005 I was in a car with two other people whom a regular everyday
ride down the road turned into a time which has given me some of the greatest joys
and greatest heartache I’ve ever had. I was a passenger in a car that flipped end over
end for 200 yards throwing one passenger out of the back and leaving me trapped
upside down in the car with no one knowing I was even in there. Although there is a
lot I don’t remember I was aware the entire time. My mom recalls coming into the
emergency room with me laying on a table and seeing my arm fall down. It me not
able to pick it up and it just dangled there. My memory picks back up in an hospital
room at Baptist hospital laying there not able to move anything. I was told days later
that I’d never walk again. A as hard as that was to hear it was time to pick up the
pieces I had and get to work! After 2 ½ weeks at Baptist hospital I was headed to
Buckhead, Atlanta for rehab at Shepherd Center the top spinal chord injury rehab
center in the country. In the meantime a man in my church, Ernest, felt a strong
calling to somehow assist me although he hadn’t met me and knew nothing about
spinal chord injuries.
Soon after getting to Shepherd Center Ernest met with my parents and expressed
what God had imprinted on his heart, that he felt God was telling him that he was to
assist me with care. Keep in mind Ernest had no knowledge of quadriplegia or even
what my care would involve. This is what God has instructed us to do, submit
ourselves and follow wherever he leads us with out question. Within a week he was
headed to Atlanta to learn how to take care of me.
After missing the first three months of my freshman year of high school, my parents
told me after Thanksgiving break I was going to school. This was a much needed
step that I dreaded but had to face. But to my surprise not everyone was that
welcoming, I had some of who I thought were my friends that completely ignored
me. But thank goodness I had good ones who were the same as they always were
although things were different.
Through out our lives we experience joyful and challenging situations, in my case
I’ve found both early in my life. My last nine years have been an experience that
many haven’t had but we all can relate to.
With God’s help and those he has appointed to help me I’ve managed to beat the
odds, I went back to high school and graduated. Then I went on to college and
completed that with Ernest by my side in class everyday and graduated Now I have
an assistant coaching position at one of the best high school men’s basketball
programs in the country this year, Greensboro Day School. An interesting point is
some of the coolest things in my life have happened after my accident.
Always remember if God is calling you to do a certain task, big or small, or even if it
seems somewhat crazy it will bring you some of the most fulfillment in your life. He
will have you equipped just like he did Ernest. No matter if you’re clueless as to how
to do that task, he will surround you with people who do know. I am thankful for
those people who God has called to help me. It’s very humbling to see his entire
plan being executed right around you.
Its amazing how in the worst situations God reveals his power. I am a living example
of bad situation flipped upside down! Keep the faith! With God’s help possibilities
are endless. Trust and be amazed!
Often we make things too complicated, do you follow God or do you not? When
you’re dealing with God, odds don’t exist, he will always come through! The key is,
are you willing to follow him and see what he has in store for you?
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