I’m so grateful to God for the gift of Christmas Hope because without the birth of Jesus, we would have NO HOPE. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking and pondering and want to share with you my Christmas reflection and prayer for you, and offer three valuable resources to help start your new year off right!
Every year, usually around Thanksgiving week, I ask my family for a Christmas wish list. Their tastes, their needs, their desires change from year to year, and I often need inspiration when it comes to gift giving. In return, they also ask what I would like for Christmas. Over the recent years, I’ve found that what I truly desire for Christmas can’t be wrapped and placed under a tree.
There’s a well-known song about a “Grown-up Christmas List.” What would you put on your list?
My Christmas Reflection
My needs, desires, and wants naturally change from year to year. This year, what I wanted more than anything for Christmas was peace for my family and peace for my heart. That calm assurance that comes from being content where you are, with who you are, and who you are with.
Philippians 4:6-7 implores us to tell God what we really need. Need is often different from what we’d like, want or desire. As I sat in the dark, quiet space, lit only by the light of the ornament-less Christmas tree, I realized what I most needed was something only God could provide. Asking God for what I truly needed became the impetus for My Grown-Up Christmas Wish List. Yet this list is not just for Christmas, but for the whole upcoming year.
A friend, knowing my entire ministry is focused on the hope that can only be found in Jesus, gave me an ornament that I keep near my desk at all times. It seemed fitting that this single ornament emblazoned with the word, HOPE, take center stage on a tree that reminds me of the tree my Savior died on for me.
The last few years have ushered in trial after trial for our family from moves to health issues to fractured relationships that we longed to make whole. The physical pain I endure meant that Christmas is much simpler for our family than for many. Decorating was done but not with the full fanfare of years gone by. Baking was kept to the minimum but ensured the favorites would be there for the guys I love. Christmas cards fell off the list when time no longer permit my standard photo, letter, card, and hand-written envelope.
In some ways my heart missed the hustle and bustle, bold and beautiful, and yet, as I considered this Christmas, I remembered the simplicity of the very first Christmas that didn’t meet anyone’s expectations except God’s. Jesus came in a manger without a party or fanfare. No one expected this to be the entry of a king.
My heart settled on the message found in Philippians 4:6-7
“Don’t worry about anything, instead, pray about everything. TELL GOD what you need, and thank him for all he has done. THEN you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (emphasis mine)
There’s a tendency when we read that passage to focus on the not worrying part and thanking him. But in my moments of quiet reflection, as tears streamed down my face as I considered the losses and grief from the past year, when what I desired most of all was peace for my family and peace for my heart, what jumped out at me was God’s command to tell Him what we need.
True, he was encouraging, even commanding me, not to worry, and offer Him my thanksgiving for who He was and all He’s done in my life, but for me, He seemed to beckon me to tell Him what I needed, in prayer, just as my son had asked when he inquired, “Mom, what do you want for Christmas?” and friends had asked me as they offered “If there is anything you need, please tell me.” That was the key to peace not just this Christmas, but all year through.
In our early years of marriage, my husband who is one of the most intelligent men I’ve had the blessing to know and so technologically savvy, always seemed to have a knack for helping solve the family issues that arose before they bubbled over into catastrophes. During those years, I affectionately nick-named him my “fundamental problem solver” or “FPS” for short. After some time, he approached me and said, “Honey, please don’t call me that. I’m happy to help, but only Jesus can be your fundamental problem solver, as he not only knows the needs you voice, but those you aren’t even aware of yet.”
Through tears I shared with a close friend that what I most needed this year was something only God could provide. Now He was beckoning me to ask HIM. So after prayer and contemplation, I prayerfully shared with God my needs, and what might be considered my “Grown-Up Christmas List”:
My grown-up Christmas wish list:
For My Husband:
- We believe that he has been healed of his cancer—I want him to see the physical manifestation of that healing.
- I want him to know in a deeper way how much God and I love him, not for what he does but because of whose He is.
- I want him to have the desire of his heart, to find his voice and to share with others what God has done for him.
For My Children:
- I want them to know that despite all the times we have made mistakes in the parenting journey, that we have tried our imperfect best to love them, provide for them, and make them a priority to us.
- I want them to have a spiritual family legacy that they can be proud of, learn from, and pass on to their own children.
- I want them to know who they are in Christ and walk in it, using all the gifts, talents, tools, and weapons God has already given them.
- I want them to know that when storms come (and they will!), to stand on the firm foundation and always stay focused on the One who calms the storms.
- I want them to know that their father and I love them very much, but they have a Heavenly Father who loves them enough that He sent His son to die for them and now walks with them every day.
- And I want Him to guide them on the path He has individually for each of them.
For My Friends:
- I want you to know the depth of my gratitude for weeping with us when we weep, and rejoicing with us when we rejoice, and that I want to do the same for you.
- I want you to know that it is my desire to walk alongside you in ministry and in life, and to pray with you and for you, expectant for how the Lord will answer.
- I want your days of laughter to be much more plentiful than your days of tears.
- I want you to experience the depth of the hope that prevails because of Him.
For My Patients/Clients/Readers/Podcast Listeners:
- I want you to know that you are cared for and that your well-being is one of my top priorities.
- I want you to experience something different when you walk through my doors—I want you to experience Christ’s love.
- I wish for a cure for cancer, dementia, autism, stroke, and all the other illnesses that plague you and bring you to see me, but more than that I want you to encounter my Jesus, The One True Healer.
- I pray you will experience His saving light in your dark places.
- I want more than anything for you to know that because of Him, Hope Prevails!
- I want to know God more, and depend on Him more fully, through the trials we are enduring.
- I want to love my husband better through his courageous journey.
- I want more doors to open for me to be a light pointing others to God’s mercy, grace, compassion, and saving love.
- I want to better comfort others with the comfort God has extended to us.
- I want to share the Hope that I know to the very core of my being prevails because of Him, despite our earthly circumstances.
- I want to ultimately hear God say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”
Each of these wishes may look a little different, and take a slight variation, but when we get right down to it, they all amount to the same thing: This Christmas and throughout the entire year, all I want is a little more of Jesus for myself and others, and to deepen our love for Him.
I don’t know what you are wishing for this Christmas and into the new year, whether it’s tangible, physical, relational, emotional, or spiritual. But God wants to hear it from you!
What a joy to know there is a safe place to come and share our inner most desires and our deepest needs. And as we thank God for the answers, He promises peace to guard our hearts and minds.
Even as Christmas ends and a new year begins, there’s no time-limit on sharing your greatest needs with God. My prayer for you throughout the new year is that instead of worrying, you’ll bring your needs to Him, thank Him for all He has done, is doing, and will do, and then enjoy the peace that comes from Him.
A Christmas Blessing For You
I know many are suffering with pain in many different areas this Christmas season: physically, emotionally, financially, relationally, and even spiritually. While I wish I could sit next to you over a warm cup of coffee, hold your hand, and listen with a compassionate heart, I know that’s generally not possible.
So instead, I want to pray this blessing over you this Christmas season (based on Matthew 5:3-12a):
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of God.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…”
May you experience all the blessings of God as you pursue Him with your whole heart, mind, and soul.
My Gifts to You
Friends, Christmas is a time when we give gifts in love and appreciation to one another. While I don’t know each of your individual needs, and only God can sufficiently meet all your needs according to His great riches in Christ Jesus, I know that the beginning of a new year is hard on many.
It’s the time like no other throughout the year when we look back and assess how far we’ve come, what we’ve accomplished in the past year, and where we want to go moving forward. It’s a difficult time for many because we often feel we haven’t measured up when goals when unmet. We grieve over unmet expectations, and relationship pains that the holidays tend to magnify. It’s a time when the holidays are over, the gloomy weather looms overhead, the bills come due, and we have little on the calendar to look forward to.
Out of my love and gratitude for you, I want to offer you three resources to look forward to in the new year (If there are affiliate links in this post, meaning, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no extra cost to you)).
Many years ago I was physically and emotionally failing and needed a reason to get up and optimistically face the day. I wrote my very first social media “Today is Going to be a Good Day” post to encourage not only myself but others as well. That became what has now been a seven-year daily ministry on social media, and the premise for my latest book, Today is Going to be a Good Day: 90 Promises From God to Start Your Day Off Right . I learned how important our mindset is, so I’m offering a free 7-Day Today is Going to be a Good Day Challenge. We’ll send you a daily encouraging email, short encouraging video with tips for helping you to have a good day, the offer to participate in a Facebook group for accountability and support if you desire, as well as freebies and giveaways. I hope you’ll join us. Register here.
I know the winter months following the hustle and bustle of the holidays can contribute to a higher incidence of the blues. So I want to offer a free webinar for you or your friends and loved ones, to share professional and personal insights on some things that can help you mitigate the blues even when you can’t change the finances, the weather, or some of your contributing relationships. It’s free to you. It’ll be a live event with a replay available for those who sign up but can’t attend live. Sign up now.
Readers have been asking me to lead an online version of the Hope Prevails Bible Study and God has spurred my heart to offer it in late January to help get through the winter months as we anticipate the joy of spring. I would love to have you join us, and perhaps even consider inviting a friend to join with you. Everything is better with a friend! I’ll be sharing more in future emails about the Bible study, but you can sign up here.
Friend, I pray that wherever you find yourself this holiday season, that you would experience that hope, peace, and joy that comes from having a relationship with Jesus!
I’d love to know how you are celebrating, as well as what kinds of resources would be helpful to you, in the comments below!
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!