Making My Home A Haven is important to me. Sharing homemaking skills. Recipes and food. Bible Studies. This is a treasure chest of goodies. So take a seat. Have a glass of tea and enjoy. You will learn all about who I am.
Podcast Episode 47: Simple Ideas for a Christ-Centered Thanksgiving
by Marci Ferrell From Thankful Homemaker.
From Sarah: The following brief quote is from Marci’s about me section of her blog. This is one of my favorite blogs to read all year. Christian homemaking at it’s best.
Grab a warm beverage and sit with me a moment.
You know there is more to being a homemaker than cooking, cleaning, and feeling you’re just surviving every day. You desire to see the purpose in what you’re doing, that you’re making a difference in the lives of your loved ones. You don’t want to get caught up in comparing yourself to others or grumbling about the work set before you. ”
Please check out her wonderful and uplifting blog if you haven’t already. Now onto the holiday post.
“I want you to be able to keep your family’s and your focus on Christ and not get caught up in all the things on your seemingly long to do list. Thanksgiving should be a time of feasting on the abundant grace of God.
I’m sharing below my simple planning for one of my favorite family traditions to celebrate together along with some bits of help at the end to keep the focus of the meal on Christ and Who we are truly giving thanks to. My hope always is to spark ideas in ways you can make much of Christ during your time together.
“Take a little time to make ordinary things extraordinary.”
Someone may be waiting for you to reach out to them this holiday season.
Lee A. Dean
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Christmas is such a melodic time of year. Everywhere we go, we are uplifted by—or patiently endure—musical selections. For many people, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” blends warm memories and a promise. Other holiday songs aim for the sentimental jugular, but none hit the target like this one. The reason is simple: the song title acknowledges the power of the word home. “I’ll Be at Work for Christmas” doesn’t have the same tug on the heart.
Our concepts and memories of home have particular power when they are pleasant recollections connected to Christmas. We recall gleefully diving into large family feasts—one for each set of grandparents, often on the same day. We saw aunts, uncles, cousins, the old folks, the young folks, and everyone in between.
Perhaps you recall wish lists and gift exchanges. At times, the results were predictable (socks, underwear, yet another bottle of Hai Karate). Other times, they were comedic, such as the time my grandmother apologized for not being able to find that record I wanted by Ted Zeppelin.
Who wouldn’t want to be part of such a scene? What kind of family would want to shut anyone out of these kinds of festivities, or proudly keep themselves away from hearth and home? The sad but true answer is: far too many.
These are the families who think of the holidays as anything but a frolic up Walton’s Mountain. They only see the ghosts of Christmases past. These unpleasant apparitions take the form of misbehavior, arguments, bitterness about who did or didn’t show up at the gathering, and disappointments over gifts. The original hurt grows over the years with each retelling.
Such a family has two choices: keep the feud going or take steps toward healing it. It requires initiative, compassion, wisdom, and the ability to envision reconciliation to break the impasse. It takes someone with the qualities of God the Father.
The Prodigal Son and Christmas
Consider a gospel story that is rarely, if ever, associated with Christmas. This story has no manger, no shepherds or magi, no star, no bloodthirsty king. The element that makes this story so powerful is simple: a father watches hopefully down the road for his wayward son to come home.
It is my story.
The parable, found in Luke 15:11-32, does not give an exact age for the younger brother. But I like to imagine him to be in his early 20s, which is a profoundly dangerous period of a man’s life—a time when he too often feels invincible but is walking headlong into a minefield. He believes the laws of man, God and nature do not apply to him, so hubris takes over. “Mines?” he asks. “What mines?”
That’s exactly what I thought in my early 20s. The sound of the detonations could be heard from Texas to my native Michigan.
My plan to go south, make a bunch of money, and have fun came crashing down until I was homeless. But there were two saving graces. The first was the protective hand of God. The second was my parents’ words as I headed out the door toward Texas: “You can always come back to the farm.” I knew this was no empty promise.
What makes the prodigal want to go home? Perhaps he or she is in a life-threatening situation, in a spot so scary that they want to flee to the safest place they know. In the parable, the younger brother became so hungry and poor that he wanted what the pigs wouldn’t eat. He decided it was time to swallow his pride and go home.
Jesus said the younger brother “came to his senses” and headed back to his homeland. So did I. With the exact amount of money for bus fare home, I boarded a bus in Houston and arrived home Sunday morning, Christmas Eve. The power of that gift, that open door, that second chance, sustains me every day.
Last year, we had the infuriated red cup guy. Remember him? Wait, how could any of us forget. This guy was stark, raving MAD that Starbucks had the audacity to not have Christmas symbols on their disposable red cups. It was an embarrassing charade of Christian angst. It really was ridiculous. Seriously, if you want Christmas in your red Starbucks cup, buy a “Merry Christmas” Starbucks gift card and buy yourself some Christmas blend coffee (then throw said cup into the trash after consuming that delicious dark nectar). Although I see that the cups are different again this year (go figure…a new design every year!), the fact that Christians tend to rant and rave over some form of Christmas injustice like…the pagan Christmas trees, Santa, ‘Happy Holidays’ or *GASP* – ‘XMAS’! Well, here is Why I Don’t Get My Panties In A Bunch Over “Xmas”.
I think we’ve given ourselves a bad reputation for getting upset over silly things, especially around Christmas time. Yes, I know there is a battle raging. But instead becoming angry and spouting off like the ‘red cup’ guy, let’s try and do something different. Our battle isn’t against disposable cups, Happy Holidays or Christmas tree. It is against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12).
One thing we can do before we get our knickers in a knot is to do a little research and discover some facts. Many years ago, I found the term ‘xmas’ offensive because I heard it was taking Christ out of Christmas. Then I did a little background check – I was trying to find the origins of this shortened form of Christmas. I was surprised by what I discovered…pleasantly surprised! X is the Greek letter “chi,” the initial letter in the word Χριστός. And Χριστός means “Christ.” X has been an acceptable representation of the word “Christ” for hundreds of years.
So, Christ remains in Xmas!
**Note to self – do the research before getting all upset about an assumption;)
But It Is Pagan!
Sure, there are some pagan roots to Christmas. However, you can find Christian roots to the Christmas tree, wreaths and even the jolly guy in the red suit!
“It was a symbol of eternity and the life of God, which is never ending. So by comparing it to the life of God, which never ends, and the Son of God, who comes to us every Christmas, it gives it this meaning of God, who makes Himself present to all of humanity”, says Fr. Estrada.
The Christmas wreath symbolizes Christ’s victory over death.
Honestly, have we gotten so good at trying to find the bad in something – the reason to not celebrate – that we have lost sight of what is truly important? Have we forgotten how to truly keep Christ in Christmas?
Keeping Christ In Christmas
So, you really want to keep Christ in Christmas, hey? Yeah, me, too. Here is how our family will be keeping Him in our celebrations.
I am fully aware that Jesus very likely was not born on December 25 and that the date was chosen in an attempt to redirect a pagan celebration (this is the same for Valentine’s Day, which also has a fascinating history…and Saint Patrick’s Day, too).
But, you see, I am all for redemption and freedom. Christ came to make all things new. He has redeemed my life, my heart and my soul. Therefore I am going to celebrate this redemption!
We can keep Christ in Christmas by living a life of complete freedom in Christ. We can get rid of fear, worry, depression…and anything else that keeps us in any form of spiritual bondage, and live fully for Him.
As we move from November to December, we also move from Thanksgiving to Christmas. But that doesn’t mean we move away from giving thanks to God. Quite the opposite.
When we focus on what Christmas is truly about, our thanksgiving should increase. And when we think about what we celebrate at Christmas and what it means to our lives and our marriage, it should bring much thankfulness and great joy.
What Christmas is Truly About
The apostle Peter said in 1 Peter 1:8-9: “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
Peter tells us here what Christmas is really all about: God sent Jesus to earth so that we could be saved from an eternity in hell, which we—as sinners–deserve.
My favorite account, however, is a more concise telling by Paul. It is from Galatians 4:4-7: “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. 6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.”
This passage gives us the entire story of what Christmas is all about. It tells of the coming of Jesus–God’s only Son–to earth. But in Paul’s account, the story does not end there. He also tells why Jesus came–so that we could be redeemed by the forgiveness of our sins and adopted by God into His family as His children.
Paul writes about this redemption through faith in Christ in Colossians 1:19-22: “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. 21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.”
This is what we celebrate at Christmas. It is only because of what Jesus has done for us that we can have salvation. And it is only because of this that God sends the “Spirit of his Son into our hearts” (Galatians 4:6) and gives us the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) that is so necessary to have the marriage God intends for us.
God’s Perfect Gift Keeps on Giving
From the time we are children, gifts are a major element of Christmas. But the true gift of Christmas is the gift God gave to us.
Romans 6:23 tells us about it: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Paul’s grateful response to that gift is found in 2 Corinthians 9:15: “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”
And this most wonderful of gifts keeps on giving!
God’s gift of forgiveness and salvation opens the way for us to have the gift of a God-centered marriage.
For our marriage to be the beautiful gift God wants it to be, we must begin by accepting God’s gift of salvation through faith in Jesus. (If you have never received this gift, please read Meet Jesus to find out more. This is the greatest gift you could ever receive at Christmas, or any other time.)
Forty-one years ago, Sabra and I had our first date five days before Christmas. Little did I know then that it would lead to God’s gift of such a wonderful wife and life together. But it hasn’t been without problems. We’ve dealt with many troubles in our years as husband and wife. As I’m sure you have also dealt with difficulties together as a couple.
Jesus was certainly right when He said in John 16:33: “In this world you will have trouble.” But He was also right when He added in John 16:33: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
One of the ways Christ has helped us overcome our troubles is by giving us to each other to see us through these hard times.
I completely agree with Solomon’s words in Proverbs 18:22: “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.” Men, join me in committing to remember what God says in Proverbs 31:30: “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
And let us all affirm the truth of God found in James 1:17-18: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”
So this Christmas as we think about gifts, let us not forget the greatest gift of all. The perfect gift of salvation God offers us through faith in His Son, Jesus.
And may His perfect gift keep on giving as we share His gift of love to all those around us–especially our husband or wife. May we always give thanks with grateful hearts for the One who came to save us and for His blessing of our marriage relationship.
Check Out The Blog For The Couples Study Questions.
It was a busy afternoon. I was distracted and overwhelmed, as many of us are during the holidays.
But I urgently needed to buy some laundry detergent — unless our family was willing to show up at church the next day in pajamas. So I rushed to the grocery store with that single item on my list.
By the time I parked the car, I had mentally added a few more items to the list, because the radio weatherman was predicting a big winter storm, and I might need some necessities. (“Must-have” items included a big bag of bite-sized chocolates, which I would secretly stash on a high shelf in the pantry in the event of Snowpocalypse. Hashtag mommy survival kit.)
I grabbed a shopping cart at the entrance and raced through aisles, picking up about a dozen more . . . a-hem . . . “necessities.”
At the checkout, the clerk gave me my total amount due. I handed her my credit card, and only then did I remember what I came for: Laundry detergent. It wasn’t even on the grocery conveyor belt!
I’d forgotten what I actually needed, because I was distracted by everything I thought I must have.
It hit me, right then, how forgetful I am — how I lose sight of the main thing, because of all the side distractions.
I’m not proud to admit that my forgetfulness happens in my spiritual life, not just at the grocery store.
Here we all are, wherever we are, on this grand globe called Earth. We’ve been sent here for purposes set for us long ago. And in reality, we need One Thing most of all. (Hint: It’s not laundry detergent or chocolate, and His name starts with the letter “J.”)
We know we need Him first and foremost, but we get distracted by everything else.
Truth is, we really do want God with all of our heart. We really do put Him at the top of our lists. But we chronically miss Him anyway — because of distraction, chaos and even because of our own pain.
The Pain is Real
For many of us, the pain is real. This can be a dreadfully hard time of year. Maybe your extended family can’t manage to sit down for one holiday meal without a conflict erupting. It’s a few weeks until Christmas, and for many of us, loved ones will be missing from our table. We can fairly predict who will be glaring at who over the water goblets, and who will be dealing with some really difficult stuff. Maybe that someone is you.
Our pain can break our communion with God.
Our distractions can break our communion with God.
Even our well-meaning busy-ness can break our communion with God.
Here’s the good news we need to know: even when we’ve broken communion with God, He doesn’t break communion with us. He enters into our brokenness, and restores communion.
And that’s what this whole season is all about — the restoration of all the broken things.
Jesus totally gets your chaos. He totally gets your brokenness. He doesn’t turn His back on the mess. He enters into it.
This is His Advent, His Christmas — His chaotic, messy, holy, no-room-for-you-in-the-inn, born-in-a-barn entry into the world. Imagine the pain of labor. The itch of hay. The stench of beast. This is God, incarnate, coming into our broken world, into our broken hearts.
Light of the world, You stepped down into darkness.