What I learned from Christmas trees and open windows

I love Christmas lights. Truly, I adore them. So you can imagine my delight when I discovered that around Christmas time, people in my apartments started decorating their little balconies and porches with Christmas lights. It’s like everyone was given their own plot of concrete and railings to make whatever they wanted.

One night I was out taking my precious puppy Ellie for a walk. I was taking in all the scattered balconies that were glittering, when I suddenly noticed that several apartments had windows open, too. That was when I noticed people were showing off more than just sparkle on their railings; they were showing off the shimmering Christmas trees and decorations inside also.

It hit me: in any other month, every single one of these windows would have been closed. But during this special time, people were opening their windows and letting total strangers catch glimpses of the inside of their worlds–simply because they had something beautiful to display. A Christmas tree. And they wanted everyone to see it, maybe to show off, or maybe just to share joy. And on that night, all the beautiful trees with lights and glimpses into people’s homes left me smiling.

It also made me wonder: many of us have something more beautiful than a Christmas tree inside our lives. We have a bright, sparkling, joy-bringing, smile-giving beauty inside us. But most of the time the windows on our lives are kept closed, too. Maybe we’re embarassed that our lives might not be clean or neat enough; maybe we want the privacy. But the fact is, when we keep our lives closed, there are people who are missing out on something we have to offer. And, unlike the Christmas tree, it’s something we can offer all year round.

What if we started realizing what we could give to the world? What if, like the people in my apartments, we opened up the windows to let people see in, simply because there’s something beautiful there? We have personal gifts, talents, and characteristics that can bless other people’s lives. And many of us have the Light of the World to shine out, the Light that so many are desperate for.

Christmas may be over, but maybe we need to keep our windows open, to offer beauty and the truest Light to those who may pass by.

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What Christmas means to me

Free Friday

Guess what, guess what? It’s CHRISTMAS DAY!

I love Christmas. I love the season, I love the lights, I love putting up the tree, I love the Christmas music, I love the gift-getting and giving, and I love being with family. All in all, it’s a season I love.

It’s also a season about love. Well, really, it’s about the Greatest Love the world has ever known. I’m pretty sure most of you know Christmas is somehow, more or less, about the birth of Jesus. (Or is it Santa? Are the two related?) And most of you know various degrees of the story about Jesus. If you’ll indulge me, I wanna tell my side of that story. This is how I understand it:

A really long time ago, God made the world. He made mankind. And early in creation, we chose our own selfish way over God’s. He was perfect and holy, we chose not to be, and we were separated from him. Guess what? That broke God’s heart. He made us to live in close relationship with him, so he made a plan to bring us back to himself. The plan came as a baby, Jesus Christ, born on Christmas. Jesus was God living as a man. He lived the sinless life we could never live and died the death our sins deserve (and that death was for all of us, because all of us have sinned). And when we trust in Jesus, he makes us right with God again. Which means when we die, it’s not really death–we go on to be with God forever.

I can’t explain that whole story above, because it involves a God I can’t explain. I can’t explain how Jesus was both God and both human, but I believe it. I can’t explain why a perfect and holy God would think we are worth saving, but I believe it. So when I think of Christmas, it’s not just about all those great things I listed above. It’s about a mending of humanity. It’s about God taking a fallen world and offering it hope in this life and, even more importantly, for the life to come. It’s about the greatest gift the world has ever known. It’s about the chance to accept the gift that will change your life.

So when I talk about what Christmas means to me, I’m not just talking about lights and presents. I’m talking about a real baby that showed up one night in the arms of a young mother. I’m talking about the man he became, the death he died, the life he gives now. I’m talking about Jesus, the gift from God that has saved my life and my soul.

If you want to know more about how Jesus has changed my life or how he can change yours, please leave me a comment or write to me at katy@sr21.com.

I heart Christmas time!

TheUpdate ThUrsday

Hey all! Sorry for skipping the last two days. I figured you’ll forgive me since it’s Christmas time and pretty crazy (plus, Christmas time is about forgiveness, so if you don’t forgive me, you’re getting NOTHING tomorrow. Haha, jk!).

Well since my last TheUpdate ThUrsday, nothing life-altering has happened. But guess what, guess what?! Today is Christmas Eve!! I’m so excited.

This week has basically been about Christmas and family, two of my favorite things. This week, I have put up our Christmas tree, made Christmas cookies to mail to Scott along with a Christmas-care package from our family, wrote Christmas cards to a few close friends, spent time with my grandparents, picked up my aunt at the airport (she came in from Massachussettes), made a family Christmas dessert with my aunt and sister, got all excited about Christmas morning and jumped around like a kid a few times, helped finish shopping, wrapped presents, and got super happy about the SNOW we got today!! (Wow, that’s a long sentence. Don’t worry; there are commas, so it makes it not a run-on sentence…right?)

My favorite thing about Christmas is the gifts. Now don’t get me wrong, I love getting them. But I have to say I love giving them, too. There’s an awesome feeling of putting time and even some money into making someone’s Christmas extra special.

Personally, I hope your Christmas is extra special, too.

The best Christmas ever…and Kris Allen

Ladies and gentlemen, the first

M&M Monday

Today I’ll be sharing with you a Memory and also a song (Music) that I currently have stuck in my head.

Memory

Since it’s Christmas week, I thought I would share a Christmas memory. I don’t have a specific time, but from all the Christmases past my favorite memory is usually decorating our tree. We had a specific tree we put together every Christmas while we lived in Asia. We had a random assortment of ornaments due to a tradition my mom set up. Every year, she would buy three ornaments (usually all the same). There would be one for her and dad and then one for both my sister and me when we left home. She wanted to make sure we would have a set of ornaments when it came time to have our own trees.

So every year we would play Christmas music and pull out our cute little fake tree to carefully slide each branch into its hole on the green pole. We would string the lights all over it (lights were our favorite part of the tree) and then painstakingly place each ornament on a limb. We would smile at the memories each ornament carried, or grin when one of our favorite ornaments got placed on the tree. One year when I was especially young, I remember becoming so excited as we put our Christmas tree together that I exclaimed “This is gonna be the best Christmas ever!” And inevitably the next year when we put together another tree, I would get even more excited and say “This is gonna be the best Christmas ever!” Every year I truly believed it was going to be the best Christmas ever. And once I got older, I began to say it out of tradition. But that is definitely one of my favorite Christmas memories, to be able to say that phrase every year when I really, really believed that it would be the best Christmas ever.

&

Music

Many of you have probably heard this song, but I only discovered it recently when I heard Kris Allen perform it on So You Think You Can Dance. I looked it up and have been playing it non-stop lately, so I wanted to share it with you awesome blog readers. (To view the version with lyrics, click here.)