What Christmas means to me..

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During my childhood, Christmas was not of much celebration, but a time of family get together. It was filled with love and fun. On 24th night we used to visit branch church and there they used to have lot of cultural programs and 12 in the mid night we used to travel back home.  After coming home we used to spend a little time decorating the church. On 25th we celebrate Christmas in our local church and then we go to another branch church. Our mother used to pack food for us and returning time we used to have lunch near a dam which was always our picnic spot.

Unfortunately, few years back during a Christmas season my father who was pastoring in Valparai, Tamilnadu for 30 years was diagnosed with brain tumour. It was the biggest shock for us. He had to go through a surgery. He struggled much with his health. He was not able to recover and on 25th December he went to be with the Lord.

So every year it is painful to remember, as he loved all people. He was father for all the believers. This year 25th June my mother also went to be with the Lord. She was very friendly and energetic person. After father’s death she was taking care of the church and facing all challenges boldly.

So Christmas brings those bitter-sweet memories to me every year. But it also reminds me that God Emmanuel is with me. Jesus was born as a child and he was named Emmanuel God with us. In our life journey we may go through different trials or lose our beloved ones, but we have a Saviour who has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. On this Christmas season let us travel with God who is always present with us during all the ups and downs of our life.

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14

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Evangelin Laji lives in Tamilnadu, the southern part of India. She is doing her Doctoral studies in Tamilnadu Theological Seminary and also Faculty of Bethel Bible Institute. She is taking care of the ministry in Valparai, Tamilnadu where her parents served the Lord.

What Christmas means to me

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I am glad to invite my friend Porsha Robertson to my Blog today. Porsha is sharing a beautiful message on Christmas as a part of ” Christmas special message series”. I hope her message inspires you to know a true joy of Christmas in your life.

Welcome Porsha!

As far as I can remember, Christmas has always been great to me.  I am the first grandchild on both of my parent’s side of the family, so I received a showering of overabundance gifts for Christmas.  My dad has always had a great paying job, so it showed when it was time for gift-giving.  I remember waking up to 90% of the gifts under the tree being for me.  Going to my grandparent’s house, my grandmother would have a huge stocking filled with all kinds of gifts which could have been a Christmas gift all in itself, but they also had a multitude of gifts under their tree with my name on it.  Santa, Rudolph, Frosty the Snowman, cookies and milk left overnight for Santa was all around me.  My grandmother had even told me that if I did not go to sleep at night, that Santa would sprinkle some dust in my eyes….yes, I was told that as a child and I was SO SCARED until my mom told me otherwise.

My brother was born when I was 12 years old.  You would think my gifts would have lessened once my brother came, but it did not…, BUT, in MY mind it did.  This is when I realized how selfish I was.  I would get SO UPSET when my brother seemed to have more gifts than me (which was not the case).  I remember getting so upset that I cried.  My mom and dad took video of us opening our gifts and captured my selfishness on camera.

Now, as a very grateful and appreciative adult, I cannot believe I acted in such a manor.  But, I was spoiled.  I was so blessed, but did not even realize it.  Now as an adult, I realize the true meaning of Christmas.  It is truly about love.  Christ’s love for us.  My husband and I have no children to buy gifts to, but we give to our family.  Christmas to me means spending time with your loved ones and giving because God first gave.

John 3:16 states that “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 

I believe this is where the gift giving came from for Christmas.   But nowadays it has gotten so commercialized.  We cannot forget the true reason for the season.   I love the Christmas scents of pine, apple cinnamon and vanilla candles.  I love seeing the beautiful lights lit up around the shopping centers and malls.   I love listening to Christian and Gospel Christmas music.  I love watching the holiday movies.  Christmas is in my heart.  This is what Christmas means to me.

Merry Christmas to you!

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Porsha Robertson

 

 

 

 

What Christmas means to me

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I thought I will write a blog post on Christmas for the “Christmas special message series” on my Blog around 25th of December. But there is a message which is keep on prompting  my heart today. And I just want to share believing that it might encourage someone.

My prayer has been for my loved ones to be safe and sound and to have a joy and cheerfulness of Christmas season this month. Another reason to be happy about was, my brother and sister- in- law were expecting a baby this month. It was a happy moment for all the family to have a new member in the family. Everything was just fine till yesterday but today everything became so miserable. Yesterday, the baby which was moving, breathing and just getting ready to see the world inside the womb, was lying breathless in the coffin today. Doctors couldn’t save their child and it was the news which shook all of us.

It’s traumatizing moment for the mom who dreamt to cuddle the child in her hand today. It’s heart-breaking to us as we waited and prayed for the little one to arrive safely. The pain is unbearable to every one of the family even though we try consoling each other over phones & through messages. There are unanswered questions runs through our minds, unexpressed feelings flow through our tears and our hearts which feel so crushed long to be felt comforted this moment.

Even if we do not understand God’s plan for us and for our loved ones with the limited understanding we have. But we can only hope in Jesus and find strength for our aching souls. “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me” John 14:1  And as we are right in the middle of the Christmas season – the season of joy, happiness and celebration, it’s actually reminding me that the hope, the comfort, and the peace which I long to have this very moment is made possible through the one who was born for me. Christmas is the promise and the hope that Jesus was born into this world to trade my sorrows with His joy and peace.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Mathew 11:28

He invites us to give our burdens to Him. He wants to refresh and comfort our souls. He wants you to be still in Him giving away your worries, troubles and heartaches to Him.

I don’t know which battle you are facing at present. You may be feeling broken, lost, miserable and hopeless in your life. Let me encourage you to put your trust in Jesus. Because those who trust Him will never be disappointed.

Christmas is the reminder for you & me that the best gift for us is sent to us this day. So we can be hopeful and joyful in the midst of the sufferings of this world. It’s a promise to us that we can be more than a conqueror in Him who has conquered the darkness with His light. Our Saviour was born for us to take away our burdens, to wipe away our tears and to love us unconditionally.

As we celebrate Christmas, let’s embrace “His precious Gift”. Don’t let Christmas be a mere festival of fun and amusement but let this season reminds us that Jesus is born to give us hope in the midst of life’s uncertainties and storms. He has come to sacrifice His life on the Cross so we will be set free, be loved, forgiven, accepted and comforted.

“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6-7

 

 

 

What Christmas means to me!

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Today I am honored to welcome my friend Carolyn DeJohn to the Blog. Carolyn is sharing a Christmas message with us this week as a part of the Christmas special message series. I am sure her words will bless and encourage you to find the true meaning of Christmas in your life.

Welcome Carolyn!

I grew up poor and I didn’t experience much peace. The very few photos taken of me did not portray a happy child. There always seemed to have some type of drama or dysfunction going on in our family.

I really don’t have a vivid memory of Christmas in our home or gifts except for the year my mom’s best friend, “Cat “ bought me an Easy Bake Oven. I was about 6 years of age. The only other gift I remember receiving was a big beautiful black doll that had hazel color marble eyes that shined in the dark but I don’t remember a Christmas celebration to go with the doll. Because of my fear of her shining eyes, didn’t want anything to do with her during the night. So she was mounted on the wall facing my bed. So needless to say, that was a gift I did not enjoy.

Also at some point in my early childhood I seen a Santa Claus but was told there was no such person. Any gifts we received came from family and they didn’t have the money to buy much of anything.

Even though gifts were not the object of my Christmas as a child, it didn’t make me sad because no one received gifts. We didn’t have a television so we didn’t see Christmas advertisement.

Our Christmas’s were more about cooking and baking. We lived mostly with my grandparents.

My grandfather was Catholic but we didn’t go to Church very often and when we did, it was mostly in Latin. I did recognize that Jesus, Mary and Joseph was involved but I didn’t understand it all and it wasn’t taught or discussed at home. Christmas programs at school were also some exposure to what Christmas is all about but no revelation of its True meaning.

My mom remarried towards the end on my elementry school years and we moved out of that neighborhood.

There my eyes were opened to the secular side of Christmas, toys, games, clothes…etc. Even though my eyes were open to the things, the ability to get them weren’t.

We started going to the Baptist Church my step-dad attended and during that time I was also introduced to the real meaning of Who Jesus is and why He was born. So much so that I gave my life to Christ! But the idea of Christmas and Things seemed to go together and engulfed my mind. It became a sad time for me every Christmas because I didn’t get any of those really neat gifts I seen on TV or any of the gifts my peers were expecting and received. And the big spread of food they talked about superseded any of the meals we had.

So I went from being content, (not happy, it was all I knew) without the true meaning of Christmas to sad and ungrateful about what I did get for Christmas. Still no Peace.

I became pregnant and married at the age of 17 to my high school boyfriend. Being married with a baby at such a young immature ages brought on many trials and heartaches. No Peace. My husband hired on at a chemical plant when our daughter was 5 months old. Our financial situation changed to the extent that we purchased a new car, a used car and a home that we were able to fully furnish before my daughter turned 2 yrs old. Financially, life was good and our daughter received enough gifts to share with at least 15 children. Christmas became about exceeding the amount of gifts we bought our daughter the year before. But still no Peace. I prayed for peace daily!

It came a time in my marriage that lead me to search for God with all my heart! I Needed Peace and I didn’t find it in my marriage, buying my daughter more than she even wanted, having a nice home, cars… None of these things gave me Peace. I heard and read Isaiah 9:6 “For to us a Child shall be born, to us a Son shall be given; And the government shall be upon His shoulder, And His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” AMP

PEACE!!! The very thing I’ve been looking for all my life is found in Jesus.

Ephesians 2:14 says, “For He Himself is our peace and our bond of unity. He who made both groups—[Jews and Gentiles]—into one body and broke down the barrier, the dividing wall [of spiritual antagonism between us].”

Christmas for me is the celebration of Jesus, KING of kings and LORD of lords. My Savior Who came to bring us  PEACE on earth. Christmas means I have peace with God. He is pleased with me.

Hebrews 13:20-21 AMP says

“Now may the God of peace [the source of serenity and spiritual well-being] who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood that sealed and ratified the eternal covenant, equip you with every good thing to carry out His will and strengthen you [making you complete and perfect as you ought to be], accomplishing in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Merry Christmas to you!

Love♥️ Blessings & PEACE

Carolyn DeJohn

IMG_2135Carolyn reside in Texas. She ministers to women through WOVEN- Women Of Valor Edifying Nations Ministries

You can join her at

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WomenOfValorEdifyingNations/?pnref=lhc
Instagram: @woven_strong

 

 

His unhoped favor!

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Exhausted with the last few sleepless nights as my son had fever and throat infection, I couldn’t imagine this day to be any better than just having a tired body, household chores screaming my name and me rushing to make sure everything works ok at home. But I didn’t want this day just to get over like the other days. It was my daughter’s birthday and I was awake at 5:00am lying on my bed, wondering if I could make this day any better for her. The little savings I had for her birthday could either buy her a new dress or a cake. But instead of sharing the needs with God in prayer, I thought of just thanking Him for His every blessing (Already there are so many things on my list to ask Him!) as I started off my day.

The beginning of the day was filled with mixed emotions when I looked at my child who has been struggling for years. All I had wished for her was to have a healthy & normal body. But I still wasn’t understanding God’s plan for her life. I still wasn’t accepting her in this condition. My motherly love was compelling me to gather all the happiness I could for her this day. I wished her to feel she is loved, admired and treasured.

To have birthday ambience, we hung some balloons in the hall but just wasn’t sure if we could invite our friends or have any celebration for her with our limitations. We began the day wishing it to be a special one for her, but at the same time not having any great hope for the situation to turn around.

A few sisters from my women’s fellowship from Church visited us in the morning. To our surprise, they had arrived with a full birthday package. I couldn’t believe that God cared for my unexpressed desire. I knew for sure, He heard me clearly this morning! All the sisters celebrated her birthday and blessed her with their prayers, wishes, songs & gifts. The moment when I was not able to decide if I should buy a dress or a cake for her, someone far away was buying beautiful dresses and a lovely cake for her. While I was wondering how I could make her day special, someone was making beautiful birthday cards and planning a birthday party for her. When I thought, only I desired her day to be special, God brought his people in her life who too wished her birthday to be special.

And at the end of the day, all I could pray was to just thank Him for His blessings and of course fulfilling my unexpressed wish of celebrating my daughter’s birthday in a way more than I could imagine.

“From the fullness of His grace, we have received one blessing after another.” John 1:16

I am sure you too have experienced God’s wonderful intervention in your day to day life. Whether it is your silent prayer or wish He fulfilled or His provision at the exact time you needed it, or it is an encouraging word you needed to hear from someone, or a phone call or an e-mail you were waiting for or anything you can name…Isn’t it amazing that we serve the Lord who cares for our small & trivial desires too?

While we wait for some thunderous, adventurous, burning bush experience to take place as God intervenes, He actually shows up through very simple ways.  He works in ways we least expect of. We might think He has got more important works to do and He might not be bothered about our simple wishes… but He does care for them. He wants us to know that He is happy seeing His children enjoy His provisions and His unexpected surprises too.

 

Will I still love my Heavenly Father?

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The other day my five years old son was playing with his toys in the evening. As he saw his dad bringing grocery bags to the kitchen, he left the toys and ran to search in the bags to see if there was anything that his dad had bought for him. He searched but was a bit disappointed because he couldn’t find any surprise this time. He came back and started to play again with his toys. I asked him, “Asher, this time Pappa didn’t buy any surprise (candies or wafers) for you, do you still love Pappa?” His answer suprised me! He said, yes! I still love Pappa.

This small conversation with my son took me back to my childhood times when I was of his age. I too wanted my father to buy candies for me or to buy what I demanded on my little list of things. When he didn’t get those things for me, I would be really upset, I wouldn’t eat or talk to anyone till I got what I wanted. I was the total opposite of my son.

Similarly, as I have a closer look at my relationship with my heavenly Father, I see that often I have viewed God as someone who ought to fulfil all the wishes on my list. If He gives me what I desire, He is a good Father and I will love Him. If He doesn’t, I will be upset with Him. It was something like this…I seek Him when I am in need or crisis and if I don’t get the results the way I expected, I will be upset with Him and probably end up feeling distant from Him.

I asked the same question to myself which I asked to my son, “Do I still love my Father in heaven even if He doesn’t  answer my prayers and grant my heart’s desires?”

I realized, I had merely sought Him out of selfish ambition to get answers to my prayers instead of seeking the deeper and closer relationship with the Answer Giver. He knows what is best for me more than I think or could ever imagine. He doesn’t want me to show up when I am in need, but He wants me to come to Him desiring His presence and a deeper bond with Him. So even in the midst of life’s challenges I will have His peace, joy, strength and His abounding grace for my life.

The truth is He knows my needs, my heart desires, my dreams and every little aspect of my life. He even knows my fears, my worries and my challenges. And most of all He has my best interests at His heart. My approach should be like my son; I still love my Father even if I haven’t received what I expected from Him. I know He will surely give me what He thinks is best for me.

Dear Father!

Forgive me for seeking you just for getting answers to my prayers instead of seeking a deeper relationship with you. Many a time I fail to understand your gracious & loving heart for me. I am sorry for coming to your throne expecting only what I desire rather than understanding what you desire for me. Sorry Father for being so self-centred and self-obsessed that I couldn’t even hear what you want to say to me. Sorry for not seeking the joy of your presence but seeking only my ambitions. I want to surrender myself to you acknowledging that you are a good Father who loves me with agape love. Please help me to understand the deepness of your love and the sweetness of your presence and a close relationship with you. Amen!

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Your unfinished story matters!

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I sat in the Women’s Fellowship waiting for my turn to share what God has been doing in my life, especially during the last four years of challenges. It wasn’t easy to recall everything that has happened in the past and how I managed to face it. Even though the severity of my challenges is now reduced, they are still present. I was actually sharing my testimony from the place of waiting…waiting on God.

Bringing the scars to life again was not possible without being emotionally moved. Words chocked in my throat and my heart was heavy sharing about the goodness of God and His abundant grace on my life. If not by His grace I wouldn’t even be living today; and that is the biggest part of my testimony I could ever share with them.

The trauma was unbearable after the scary diagnosis of my daughter four years ago.Each day had been a  challenge. All I wanted was to get relief from the heartache I was going through. It was unbearable for me to see my child suffer day and night with seizures, vomiting and many other health issues. I was clueless as to what the future would hold for her.

As a mother, I felt helpless; not being able to comfort her in any way. Numerous sleepless nights, hospital visits, blood tests, one after another treatment plans, following my son’s severe speech delay & behaviour issues and most of all the chaos in the family made me to doubt God’s love and even His existence. Why wouldn’t He see my tears? Why wouldn’t He stop this storm? I questioned…

..but at the end of the day, all I could do was hope. Hope for a day when everything would be ok…and this hope was given to me by Him. In the midst of all these hard days, if I could still come to His feet, dive into His Word, trust Him for my future, praise Him for leading me each day, think of pursuing my passion, it was all because of the hope He placed in my heart. He strengthened me when I felt weak, He lifted my soul when I felt all was lost. He held me near Him when I felt bitter and troubled.
“The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

As I began to share my life in the women’s meeting in the church, I wondered if my story from my waiting season would make any difference to them. Because I had no miracle to share except the story of my continued faith in God; my perseverance and the hope I clung to in the midst of my challenges. But the things I was hesitant about in my story became the most impacting insights for them. He used my hurts, my tears and my disappointments to bring encouragement to their hearts.

I realised that my testimony is not something about my greatness but His glory alone and how He wants it to be. It doesn’t have to be perfect but true and genuine. It doesn’t have to be a miraculous or glamorous one but hope-filled and real.

Friend, are you in a season of waiting and wondering if your life story would ever be a blessing to others? Do you feel that you haven’t got any miracle to share yet? Do you feel your testimony doesn’t make any sense?

God wants to use your broken places to bring glory to Him. He wants to be glorified in the midst of your waiting season. Your testimony is all about His glory no matter how it looks at present. He wants you to share your life right from the places where you feel broken, discouraged, and hopeless. He wants you to bring comfort to others with the comfort you have received from Him.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:4

 

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