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Just a few short weeks ago, my mind was going through a mental checklist of things for which I was thankful… my husband, our sons, our family, our home, our life, our church, our faith, friends, our school.  It was Thanksgiving.  I prayed, giving thanks for those things and asking God’s blessings for the people included on that list.

Then came the day after Thanksgiving when the mad dash to Christmas officially began, and I started new lists…a Christmas shopping list, Christmas to do lists, a list of things my kids wanted for Christmas, and things I might want for Christmas.  Quickly forgotten was the first list…the things for which I was thankful.

I was reminded of my ‘thankful’ list the next week in church when our praise and worship leader, Rob Jackson, talked about how in America we give thanks one day, then the next we’re going crazy in stores trying to buy all we can.

Hmmm… Looking back I recalled that my thankful list reflected on love of God, family, home and friends.  My Christmas list was all about material things.  If I had so much for which to be thankful, then why were these material things such a big deal?

Is Christmas about the stuff?  Or about love?  About God?  That’s a choice each person must make for him/herself.

As mentioned in my previous post, our Senior Pastor, Terry Moore, said that giving is a part of loving.  When we love, we want to give.  Yes, I get caught up in all the fervor of the season, but it’s because of love!  I love Christmas.  I love the people in my life.  Most importantly, I love Jesus.  Because of those loves, I want to celebrate the season!  I want to give to show my love!

It might make me crazy at times, but that’s why it’s important to me to decorate the house, find the right gifts, make Christmas goodies, and do all the things that are on my lists.  I want to share the joy of the season with those I love!

Looking at my lists through the lens of love, I realize that maybe my Thanksgiving list and my Christmas lists aren’t so different after all.  Each list was written out of love for others and love for God.  As long as I keep Christ in CHRISTmas, and remember that He is the true reason for the season, then Christmas will be about all the truly matters.

Merry CHRISTmas!  May the love and joy of Christ be the gift that keeps on giving.  🙂

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It’s a beautiful morning in Charlotte today!  The sun is shining and the sky is bright blue.  As I drove home from a meeting I couldn’t help but gaze at the sky, and there before me, up in the sky, was a huge image of a cross!  It was formed by two intersecting lines made by jet streams.  These lines didn’t just intersect, they formed a giant cross that was stretched out across the sky for all to see!

We had just celebrated Christmas at the meeting, so how wonderful it was to  see such a visual reminder of the Christ Child!  As I gazed up at that cross, the following Bible verse came to me:

His banner over me was love.   – Song of Solomon 2:4 (KJ)

 Yes, indeed.  That cross was spread out like a banner of love across the sky.

Then words came to me from the sermon last Sunday, given by our Senior Pastor, Terry Moore:

For God so loved, that He gave.

 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son,

so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.

– John 3:16 (NLT)

For God so loved that He gave, and His gift was Love.  A symbol of that love was stretched out overhead.

Another Bible verse came to mind.

Love covers all sins.  – Proverbs 10:12

God’s love, Christ’s love, both cover me, and their love covers all my sins.  I am forgiven.

The verse came to me again.

Love covers all sins.  – Proverbs 10:12

 Their love covers all sins, not just all my sins, but ALL sins…everyone’s sins!  Jesus’ love is for everyone, and everyone who comes to Christ is forgiven!

I’m to forgive others, too.   In Christ, my love should be enough to forgive others.

And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.

– Matthew 6:12

Oh, Lord Jesus, what an amazing sight that cross was up in the sky!  Thank You for being a banner of love over us.  Thank You for being God’s gift of love, and for being Love itself.  I give thanks that Your love covers our sins, and that through You we are not only forgiven and freed, we are also given eternal life with You in the glorious place we know as heaven.   In honor of You, please help me to be about love this Christmas.  In Your holy name I pray.  Amen.

“Whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory.”    ~ 1 Corinthians 10:31

It’s that time of year again!  Time to arm yourself with loads of candy canes and become a Candy Cane Crusader for Christ!

A Candy Cane Crusader for Christ is someone who gives out candy canes and cheerfully says, “Merry Christmas!”

I started this when I learned that many retail stores, restaurants, and business establishments were forbidding their employees to say, “Merry Christmas”.  I was appalled!   Since then, some businesses have gone even farther by omitting the word ‘Christmas’ from their ads and displays.  For instance, they advertise Christmas trees, but call them ‘holiday trees’.  What?!  Christmas is what it’s all about!  They can’t take Christ out of Christmas!

“Well,” I thought, “they can’t say Merry Christmas to me, but I can say it to them!”  That’s when I became a Candy Cane Crusader for Christ!   I started handing out candy canes and saying, “Merry Christmas!”   The candy cane symbolizes Jesus Christ, so when I share a candy cane, I’m sharing Jesus, too.

For five years now I’ve been keeping a stash of mini candy canes in my purse.  I give out as many I can throughout the day to those I encounter.  Often I attach a mini copy of the Legend of the Candy Cane.  Want to put a smile on the face of a teenager at the drive-up window? Give him/her a candy cane and say, “Merry Christmas!”  Better yet, give that person a whole handful and tell him/her to share them with the rest of their crew!   Cheer up grumpy shoppers and fussy chidren, reward kids you catch being good, and hand them out to your new ‘friends’ as you wait in lines. It always makes people smile, and sometimes it’s just what someones needs as a little ‘pick me up’. We keep candy canes in our newspaper box with a note telling passers by to help themselves.  I attach the Legend of the Candy Cane poem about Jesus on those.

One year our family gave out over 1,000 candy canes!  Most were given to With Love from Jesus run by Joy McGuire.  She and her helpers took them with her when she ministered to homeless people and people in shelters on Christmas Eve.  She fed them cups of hot chili, give each person a gift, shared the Gospel with them, and passed out the candy canes!   Friends from church pitched in and we donated over 3,000 candy canes to Joy to use for her Christmas Eve ministries.

I pray over the candy canes before giving them away, asking God to use them as a blessing for others.  I also pray at the end of the day for those I met while sharing candy canes.

C’mon and join me!  Many others have!  Become a Candy Cane Crusader for Christ and start giving out candy canes, too!  Remember, when you do you’re not just keeping Christ in Christmas, you’re sharing Jesus with others, too!

Here’s the Candy Cane Poem about Jesus we attach to our candy canes.  I can also send you a ready-to-print page with multiple copies of the poem on one page.  Just send me an email request, and I’ll respond with the Candy Cane poem attachment.

Look at the Candy Cane,

What do you see?

Stripes that are red

Like the blood shed for me.

White is for my Savior,

Who is sinless and pure.

“J” is for Jesus, my Lord, that’s for sure!

Turn it around and a staff you will see,

Jesus my Shepherd was born for ME!

Please let me know if you become a Candy Cane Crusader for Christ, too!   You can reply to this post or send an email to ReneeMyers@carolina.rr.com

CHRISTmas blessings to all!

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