The Welcome

They welcomed a baby into their world and were told to call Him Immanuel, which means “God with us”.  They displayed Him – God – in the form of a baby, in a manger, on a bed of straw, with the stench of the barn animals and noises that go with them.  As strange as it might sound to some, this was a regal moment in an environment that was clearly less than stellar for a King.  They were afraid, they had anxiety, they had fatigue.  Yet they welcomed the shepherds that night. And later, the wise men.  They were open to whoever would show up to worship this king.

Over the years, truth be told, I have become bored with the Christmas story.  Maybe because I am so accustomed to hearing it.  And partially because I have experienced, first hand, the conditional sharing of Jesus from some believers.  In my journey, I am learning that I want the meaning of Christmas to be an experience carried throughout the year and not one event that happens in December.  Christmas music, on the other hand, can start 2 weeks before and not a minute sooner. LOL!!

So, every year, I pray that God would rewire me, so I can hear what He wants me to hear in this season of my journey.  Because He is such a faithful God, He has done just that, yet again.  He is revealing something this year that I hadn’t ever considered.  Something simple in a new and fresh way hidden in the Christmas story.

What is it? You ask?

…Let me tell you. (using some creative license of course)

I have given birth to 3 sons and I assure you, I wasn’t “people ready” that soon after giving birth.  I had no interest in hosting guests.   How did Mary do it?  How did she welcome the shepherds to her “home” so soon?  How did she put up with all those “unwanted” smells in that space?

Here it is…

“Immanuel”.  God with us.

Mary had God with her, so she welcomed the strangers into her home.  She didn’t know them.  She didn’t know that they would arrive.  The shepherds had angels to announce the arrival of Jesus and the wise men had a star to follow till they found His specific location.  But Mary had no announcement, she didn’t have a butler, nor a maid, nor any technology that would give her a heads up that they were coming.  She didn’t have time, energy, or reason to clean up the stable for these unexpected guests.

She welcomed them because she knew they were coming to see Jesus.

Will this be the experience in your home this Christmas or throughout the year?  Will you welcome guests into your home so they can experience Jesus?  Or will you be caught up with the hustle and bustle, cleaning, prepping, and complaining, all in the name of Christmas?

To my Christian friends, this is “doing missions”.  You don’t have to leave your neighbourhood, town, city, state, or country to express your missional heart.  You only need to open your doors.

Make room at your table.  Make room in your story.   We can give what we do have.

If you have Jesus, you can give Him freely to those around you.  Don’t distract them or allow yourself to be distracted with all the trimmings of the season. Let them see the real you this Christmas and help them experience Jesus through your story.

I think when Mary pondered in her heart the realities of becoming the mother of Jesus, perhaps she understood this in a very deep and intimate way.  She knew that Jesus would be the Saviour of the World and so she freely shared Him without expectations. What a great example for us today.

I believe God births things in us not just as a gift for us but for those around us.

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Over the past several years, we as a family have struggled to feel welcomed into certain relationships, certain homes.  No judgement, only forgiveness.

We used those times to welcome those who didn’t have a place to go and made the most of the experience in our home, despite the pain we may have carried deep in our hearts, sharing what we had and welcoming whoever God brought our way.

 

 

Jesus offers you the same kind of welcome when you come to Him.

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As you head into Christmas, I wish you a time of celebration, peace, and joy!! May you feel the presence of God through the gifts you give and receive and through the smiles and laughter all around you.  If your season includes tears of sorrow, know that He catches every tear and will one day pour them out over you in the form of blessings.

 

January is around the corner and I hope you don’t forget that “God is with you” still!!

Merry Christmas to all and please know that you are always welcome in my story!

 

Thank you for joining me on my journey,

Kinita

REFLECTION:

What is God birthing in you?

Who is God asking you to welcome into your story today?

Do you extend the welcome you received at the cross?

Less is More

We are approaching the end of another year.  Time is flying by.  Like many others, I tend to feel very nostalgic and introspective at this time of the year.  Perhaps, because it is the Advent season where we celebrate the arrival of the Christ child, while also practicing His presence each day. Christmas, 2015

Today, as I reflect, I am reminded of a significant word that the LORD gave me at the beginning of this Advent season.  I am not much for focusing on one word, but it looks like this year is different.  What is the word you ask?  Downsizing.

What a strange word to be pondering during Advent.  And yet, not that strange at all.  Advent is a time to prepare our hearts for the arrival of Jesus as a baby in a manger and then to celebrate His birth on Christmas Day.

Plain and simple…right?

Unfortunately, we tend to do the opposite.  We make it complicated.  We fill our houses, calendars, fridges, credit cards, minds, and stomachs with all the treats and trimmings of the season and allow ourselves to indulge, with excuses that end in “Tis the season!”.

I am not trying to be a scrooge.  I like Christmas, just not in the way most people in my life do.

For the past 2 years, I have seen a trend in my heart.  The dislike for what I call, “Christmas clutter.”  Because of some personal circumstances, our family has taken a break from decorations, shopping, gift giving and many other common festivities that happen during this time of the year, here in America.

Sounds dreary and scrooge-like to many of you, I am sure.  But we have found a Joy unspeakable and a Peace that passes all understanding as a result.

Isn’t that the real reason for the season?  Joy and Peace?

I am now being called to downsize to make even more room for Jesus in my story.  Just like when Mary & Joseph arrived in Bethlehem, there was no room at the inn for them.  I don’t want my story to go like that.

The more I get the more I want…of Him.

I asked God where He wanted me to downsize, since His view of my story is better than mine.

He gave me this… “boundaries in pleasant places” (Psalm 16:6), so I could gain clarity about how and where He wants me to downsize.

Physically – house size, clothes, body size, possessions.

We are not changing our address anytime soon (unless God decides otherwise).  I clearly have too many clothes than I know what to do with.  Although we have had garage sales for various reasons over the past few years, I am sensing that God is asking us to sell even more of the items we own.  Perhaps He already knows something we don’t.

Emotionally – deal with all my feelings (good, bad, otherwise), put boundaries in place that guard and protect, remove certain people from my life that cause undue emotional stress (toxic people), implement healthy social media boundaries.

This past year has been full of feelings new and old, shallow, and deep.  God has been faithful in leading and guiding every step of the way.  In some cases, it was easy in this area. But in other ways, it was quite challenging.  I want to continue to pursue emotional health not only because it is a special gift that I give to the people in my life, but it also strengthens my witness.  I learned a phrase last year, “one cannot be spiritually mature while being emotionally unhealthy at the same time.”  This statement has impacted me deeply and helped me downsize effectively.

Mentally – evaluate what I am feeding my brain, determine how I am strengthening my brain to function the way it is supposed to, identify lies I am believing and replace them with the truth.

God’s Word has been the most effective tool that does the above for me.  Just being in the Word isn’t enough, I have to let it do its work in me.

Spiritually – tighten down on my theology, step into the Gospel more intentionally, seek the presence of God in the deepest parts of my story so I have more of Him and less of me, push away teachings and practices that don’t line up with God’s Word.

If I don’t have a good handle on the Gospel, then my life will show it.  In 2015, I survived an earthquake that resulted in a deeper pursuit of Jesus and the determination to live like I want to die.  With integrity and deep resolve.

In a couple of weeks, we will celebrate Jesus’ birth. In the meantime, I will continue to downsize by dying to myself so there is more room for Jesus when He arrives.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!!

REFLECTION:

How about you?

Is God calling you do downsize?  If so, where?

How will you respond to His invitation this advent season?

Is there room in your story for Him or will you turn Him away?

 

Thank you for joining me on this journey!

Kinita