December is here and bring on winter. I am ready for snow, I want to see what it is like to drive in the snow in my new vehicle that is a SUV. I am ready for snow days off from school, so I can stay home and watch movies.
December is here and goodbye to November. I do not want to go through a month like last month again. I had bronchitis most of the month and then there was that short hospital stay.
December is here and bring on Christmas Break. I am so looking forward to having a few weeks with nothing to do except meet with refugee/immigrant friends and do some writing.
December is here and hopefully it brings opportunities to share Jesus with my refugee/immigrant friends, The best part of Christmas for me is the way it opens opportunities to share Jesus with friends from other cultures who are curious about Christianity.
December is here. Are you ready for winter, Christmas, and a new month?
It feels like I blinked and suddenly it is almost Christmas. After spending most of November having bronchitis, and now feeling healthy, tomorrow will be December 1st- as in twenty four days until Christmas. It is not an issue of shopping or decorating for me.
Shopping for me takes a few minutes on Amazon ordering things to be delivered. I never decorate or have a Christmas tree. So for me it is not about the trappings of the holiday.
What I was not ready for was the focus on celebrating the birth of Jesus. I have never enjoyed the holiday season, but love celebrating the birth of our Savior through writing in my blog, church services, and my prayer time. Inviting my refugee/immigrant friends to Christmas Eve service has always been a highlight for me.
This time of year I seek to be intentional about keeping my focus on celebrating Jesus not the holiday. Focusing on the holiday and its empty promises without focusing on Jesus can lead to depression and other problems. I think of the lyric of the song Have Yourself A Merry Christmas- “next year all of our troubles will be out of sight.” Focusing on the holiday as some magical time of year leads to problems.
Focusing on Jesus and why he was born leads to experiencing God in our lives. Focusing on Jesus is realistic especially when I think of what Jesus said in John 16:33:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Jesus never made empty promises. He was very clear that this life will be problematic. He was also very clear that he will always be with those who believe in him, so we never face life’s problems alone.
So for me when I say it feels like I blinked and its Christmas time, what I am talking about is that after fighting bronchitis for most of November, suddenly it’s time to focus on celebrating the birth of Jesus and all that means.
Are you ready to celebrate the birth of our Savior?
Yesterday after my follow up appointment at the doctor, the logical thing to do was to have a cheeseburger for lunch. At least in my mind it was totally logical. So I went to a place in my city called Honest Abe’s. The location I went to is in a strip mall close to the neighborhood I grew up in here.
After lunch, I noticed something. 100% of the stores that were a part of my childhood and teen years are gone. There is no resemblance to the neighborhood strip mall that I knew. Geiers Bakery is now the burger place. Blevins Pharmacy is now a skin care place, The old grocery store is now a hardware store. I am rarely in that part of the city and only went there because it was the closest burger place to my doctor’s office. Perhaps that is why it grabbed my attention that nothing is left of my childhood and teen days there.
Then the thought hit me that I also bear no resemblance to the person I was as a child or as a teen and not just physically. Gone is the angry teen who only cared about partying. Gone is the child who felt no hope. Gone is the young man who saw no purpose to life.
Jesus has literally transformed me and my life. All of those years ago, I would have never imagined I would have a ministry for refugees and immigrants and be teaching ESL.
Jesus can do wonderful things with a life given to him. He brings new things to our lives. He changes us and our desires in life. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
I know from where I came and how far Jesus has brought me in life. Every blog post I write, every class I teach, every refugee/immigrant I help, is a testimony to the power of Jesus working in my life over the years.
Whatever situation we find ourselves in, everything is possible with God. As we enter the Christmas season, the birth of Jesus itself speaks of the power of God to make the impossible possible. Mary was a virgin when she conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit. No man was involved.
God is the God of the impossible. In Jesus lives are turned around, breakthroughs happen, people are transformed. When we pray, we are praying to the One who has ALL POWER.
When I was first taken to my hospital room last Sunday, I shared with the nurse it all seemed so sudden and freaky. In an attempt to put me at ease, she pointed to the monitor I was connected to and let me know that they could see what the monitor was showing in their nurses station and also in another location in the hospital where they were monitoring all patients on the floor.
My reaction was two fold. First I wanted to get out of there thinking if it is that bad I don’t want to have it. The second, and saner one, was the it did put me at ease knowing I was being watched over by more than one person.
Psalm 33:18 says:
But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love
God is always watching over us. There is never a moment that we are not in his sight. There is comfort in knowing that God is always watching over his people.
Dear reader, wherever we go, whatever we are doing, whatever difficulty we are facing, God is watching over us. He has us in his hands.
It is a phenomenon that most Americans do not understand. It happens every four years. I have observed it many times over my years of working with refugees and immigrants. What is it? It is the obsession with World Cup Soccer-or as the rest of world calls it- Futbol.
It happened again yesterday. I met my friend Luis from El Salvador for lunch at a Hispanic restaurant. Sure enough the match between Holland and Ecuador was on the TV. During our whole lunch time, Luis was mesmerized by the match on TV. It consumed all of his attention. I am not sure if he will remember any of our conversation.
The only thing that might compare in the USA is college football as it pertains to the team one cheers for. I used to plan my weekends around the games my team played in. But if my team was not playing, my interest was not so strong.
I should mention that El Salvador does not have a team in the World Cup. Nevertheless, Luis was completely enraptured by the match on TV.
It made me wonder what would happen in my life if I was as enthralled by time with Jesus as Luis is with World Cup Soccer. What if I watched and prayed like he watches the soccer matches. What a difference it could make in my life.
I like to joke with soccer fans that soccer is in the bible and then show them Philippians 3:14:
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Press on toward the goal-as in soccer goal. Okay I hear that groan. 🙂
But the principle of having that kind of passion for Jesus is my point. He defeated death for us. He died for all of our sins. His love for us is eternal. God has called us to follow Jesus. There is no greater honor or calling.
Thanksgiving has come and gone already. It feels like it zipped on past me quickly. It was nice to spend time with friends last night sharing friendship and delicious food. But it is over now. The rest of the world will be full speed ahead to Christmas, but I am not ready for it. I do not mean about shopping. That is a five minute thing for me on Amazon.
I wonder how many crazy people will wait outside in the cold to be the first ones in the stores for shopping. How many will be sane and do it all online like me. 🙂
I feel like calling this year My Chronic Christmas as in chronic illness.. I have a follow up appointment with my GP next week to follow up on my recent hospital stay. I have a rheumatology appointment on Dec. 21st and a follow up appointment with the cardiologist on the 23rd. I also have a MRI sometime before the rheumatology appointment.
So that is four medical things before Christmas. UGH.
The one good thing about Christmas, the best thing, is that it is a reminder that Jesus left heaven to be born as a human baby, so he could be Immanuel-God With Us. I am grateful Jesus is with me at medical appointments.
Are you ready for the whole Christmas holiday thing?
It had been several days since I last went to the coffee shop due to having bronchitis. With my lungs clearing up and feeling somewhat recovered from cardioversion this week, it was time to go.
With it being the day before Thanksgiving yesterday, as expected, they were not very busy. But still just getting out and about felt good. The coffee mug was appropriate for the occasion with a picture of a cello etched into it. The sound of coffee brewing is the music of my people. 🙂
So many things to be grateful for this Thanksgiving, my classes that I teach, my students, my Ukrainian friends. my Sunday morning Hispanic friends, a good car, opportunities even in the hospital to share Jesus, and much more. God has been good to me.
I would like to wish my blogging friends a Happy Thanksgiving Day. May it be filled with blessings.
Yesterday was a normal kind of day for me that involved spending time with people from four different countries. It was just my kind of day. 🙂
It started with teaching three moms from Mexico. The moms from Afghanistan could not be in class. Since only the moms from Mexico could be in class, I used Spanish to help them understand some things about English.
Then it was on to a coffee shop to meet with a student from Switzerland to help her practice conversational English. She shared pictures of her family with me. She is here doing an internship with a man who works with clocks and watches. He is originally from Switzerland, so we have a few young people come here each year to do an internship with him.
Next it was a friend from Vietnam who had been my student. We met at a different coffee shop. It was great catching up on what is happening with my friend’s family. My friend wanted to give me a box of books for studying English to share with Ukrainian students.
My day concluded with teaching Ukrainian refugees English at a Ukrainian church and having dinner at the home of one family. The father/husband of the family was a pastor in Ukraine. We used Google Translate to share. He shared with me how much he enjoys meeting people from other countries in other classes here. I shared with him that having students from many countries gives me an appreciation for what Jesus said in John 3:16.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
The world has come to my city. If I walk through some of the supermarkets here it is like walking through an international airport. I am grateful Jesus has allowed me to share his love with the world.
Life changes. Just thinking about those words, what comes to your mind? What emotions are attached to those words?
I am in the process of praying about a change that will be a slight adjustment that could lead to even more changes. I realize I am being vague, but more to share in a few weeks.
Sometimes a life change is gradual and planned. Sometimes life changes can hit abruptly. I am grateful that Jesus never changes and is eternally with us. As Hebrews 13:8 says:
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
When Jesus leads me to make a change in life, I often think of Abraham when God called him to follow him. We read in Genesis 12:1.
“Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.”
God called Abraham to follow him to a place that God would show him. In other words, get moving and I will show you along the way.
To be honest, I am at the stage in life that it would be appealing to sit back and relax, to rest on my laurels. But in ministry there is no retirement. There is just the ending of earthly ministry by being called home to heaven.
Realizing I am being vague, I would appreciate prayers as I follow God’s call.