Remembering to Make Room

Standing at the beginning of December, I’m already seeing very full days when I look at my calendar.  The joy and excitement of the Christmas season can often be matched equally with busyness, and busyness quickly leaves little room for anything else.  

We find packed calendars instead of leaving room for quieting ourselves.  We find ourselves wading deep in stress instead of leaving room for peace.  We begin drowning in parades, lights, parties, baking, Santa, holiday movies and Christmas shopping, instead of leaving room for being still and remembering why we are celebrating.  We can easily find ourselves doing so much, yet not remembering to intentionally make room for the One who we are celebrating this season.

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Even on that very night when Jesus was born into this world, there was no room for Him.  As Mary and Joseph searched for a place to come in that night, they couldn’t find anyone who had room for them.  It wasn’t until an innkeeper finally made room that the Savior of the world was born.  We need to remember this season to make room for the most important part of Christmas: Christ.

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in the manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” –  Luke 2:7

I’m a Christmas junkie and love all things Christmas celebration, lights, parades, parties, and all of the festivities.  In the same breath, I’m also a homebody: an introvert who not just likes her quiet and alone time but desperately needs it for sanity and de-stressing.  When I pull up my calendar and see something marked on nearly every box in the month of December, I can feel my stress levels rise without having even done any activities yet, despite how good and fun those activities would be.

When both my introvert-self and Christmas-junkie-self come hand in hand, it makes for a rather awkward marriage.  I imagine there are a number of you who resonate and understand exactly what I mean; the deep desire to do all the fun Christmas things (because despite the Christmas season being more than three weeks, it just doesn’t feel like enough time for it all!) and simultaneously the aching need to just curl up in the quiet of your home in front of the fire.  How do you do both and not sacrifice one for the other? How do you make room for what matters in this season?

For me to try to successfully do both, I’ve had to carve out specific time to quiet myself.  I already wake up earlier than my children for such a reason so this seems like a perfectly good time to be intentional with my heart, mind, and relationships in this Christmas season.  Women, if you’re like me, you’re the member of your family leading what activities get put on your calendar. With this also comes the responsibility of not tiring your family with so many activities that the proper room is not made for Christ.  We must not just be hopeful in trying to leave room for Jesus, but we need to intentionally make room.  

My morning quiet times are always dear to me but especially so in the Christmas season.  Sitting quietly in the soft light of the tree, with the fireplace raging, and a hot cup of coffee in hand makes for a beautiful and delightful quiet time.  Not just for the glamour and ambiance of the space but for the intentional room and rest I make in my heart during this otherwise busy time. For if I am not first pointing my own heart back to Jesus and clearing space for Him, how well can I lead my family’s activities to do the same?  

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Friends, I want to encourage you to intentionally make room for Christ this season.  Let the other noise quiet down and rest in praise and the knowledge that a Savior was born unto us, and God is with us. He made room for our names in his book of life and gave up his space in heaven to come down to redeem our broken world.   

“’Joseph, son of David,’ the angel said, ‘do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.  For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’  All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: ‘Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” Matthew 1:18-25


Kayla AndersonKayla Anderson is married (for better or for worse) to the one who she knows without a doubt that God created her to be companions with.  Together they have four young children, Ezekiel, Asher, Ellery, and Alder, and run a hand-crafted soap shop.  She is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom and is in a season of learning how to gracefully be the central point and glue of their family.  Thank the Lord that she has Him to look to for wisdom, guidance, and strength!  She loves reading in the quiet, early morning hours, decorating their sweet little home, writing has been part of her soul since she learned how to write letters, and her love of coffee runs deeper than her coffee pot.  You can find more from Kayla on her blog or Instagram.
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2 Lessons from the Magi (Plus a Free Printable)

It’s just turned December and I’ve already almost completed my Christmas shopping. I’m not normally so prompt in my shopping, but I’m not really a last-minute gift-giving gal either. I love choosing the gifts thoughtfully for my family and friends. It’s a reflection of my love for them.

The Magi’s ( also known as the wise men) gifts for Jesus were carefully chosen as well. In fact, they were a fulfillment of prophecy. Isaiah 60:6 says, “They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.” The time between this particular verse and the actual event was around 700 years later. Talk about living in anticipation.

Sarah Dohman Christmas

We have two profound lessons to learn from the Magi that will help us every day:

1. Come as you are.

 The Magi were Gentiles, and Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. This to be profound because it means come. Come as you are to Jesus. We are no longer held by Old Testament rules. Jesus came to Earth so that we no longer had to have someone enter into the highest temple for our behalf to worship God. We can come to Him, without reservation.

2. We offer our gifts as worship.

Gold, incense, and myrrh were of significant value. Gold was the metal of kings. Giving Jesus this precious metal was stating HE was the long-awaited King. Frankincense was used in temple worship, and giving Jesus this gift meant the Magi saw Jesus as the High Priest (who ultimately connects us to the Father, God). Finally, myrrh was the gift I find to be most intriguing. It was used for embalming bodies. The Magi foreknew this small child would one day embark on death, the greatest death of all. Their precious, symbolic gifts were humbly given to Jesus, the King, the fulfillment of prophecy. 

As we give our presents to others this Christmas, may we be thoughtful. We may not be taking our gifts to the feet of the Savior but we do love others as a way to show our love for Him. May we offer our trinkets of love, but also the gifts within us. as worship to our Holy King.

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Click here to get your free printable of Matthew 2:11

Jesus came to Earth, born of a Virgin, lived fully as man for thirty-three years, died on the Cross, was buried in the grave three days, and rose again. He is the greatest gift of all. Won’t you receive Him this Christmas season?


Sarah DohmanSarah Dohman is a nurse, kayak enthusiast, coffee addict, microbrew lover, globetrotter, adorer of friends and family. She has a weakness for donuts, runs in 5k races, and cannot get enough tea and books. She loves writing more than talking (and she talks a lot), can be seen at Target frequently, and is loving life in her thirties. She believes God has called her to this space to bring joy and encouragement through words to friends and family, near and far. You can find more from Sarah on her blog or on Instagram.

Finding Purpose in the Pain of Christmas

Author: Karly Grant

Christmas. For some, that word brings feelings of excitement, glee, celebration, and magic. For others, that word invokes grief, dread, lost hope, or sadness. Or maybe you find yourself at a crossroad of all these emotions like I do? No matter where you find yourself this holiday season, I want you to know that you are seen, you are heard. The One who we remember and celebrate this season cares so deeply for you, about the real you and your emotions, more than you can ever imagine.

I am the first to get excited when Christmas decorations start going up, music with jingle bells starts playing, and Hallmark publicizes their list of new cheesy movies. I literally squealed with excitement upon arriving at work one day to see that decorations had started going up. I love the magic of Christmas; the excitement, the beauty, the memories, the laughter, the family time.

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When I dig a little deeper beyond the surface aspects of the holiday season, that’s where the fairy tale ends. It is so easy to be reminded in this season of all the hopes, dreams, relationships, and people lost. It’s amazing how quickly, with just one thought, the feelings of cheer can switch to those of sadness.

For me, as well as many others, cheerful Christmas memories include estranged family members and people who have passed away. Where these losses are felt year-round, they can be especially hard during this time of year. It is difficult to gather with family and reminisce about the good ol’ days, when there is someone dearly loved that is not there to celebrate with you.

Another area of pain in this season comes in the form of unfulfilled hopes or dreams. We all have that perfect Hallmark picture in our minds of families gathered around the Christmas tree, caroling, festive parties, and happiness. While I love all of these things, nothing brings up thoughts of inadequacy or dreams lost for me as quickly as a holiday party. As a woman in my mid-30’s, I am reminded almost immediately upon arrival at such festivities of my singleness. I know it is never the intention of the people hosting the parties, but I quickly notice the seemingly happy couples and feel left out of a part of the cheer.

I always dreamed of being a happy family. I looked forward to the day that my husband and I would stay up all night assembling gifts, only to be awoken too early by our children and relish in the joy on their faces as they opened gifts on Christmas morning. The older I get, the less likely it is that I will get to experience this dream that I’ve placed on a pedestal and that hurts.

So the question remains, how do we find the balance between the cheer and the pain? How do we embark upon this season while keeping it real, but not allowing the enemy to speak lies that will either gloss over the pain with fake cheeriness or allow ourselves to have a pity party that brings gloom to the whole season? For me, I’ve found the answer is in Advent.

Advent is a season recognized by some churches that leads up to celebrating the birth of Christ. It is not something prescribed in the Bible as something that Christians must do, but something that I have found helpful in the last couple of years. As a child, my great-grandmother used to give me an advent calendar. I looked forward to opening up a window every day in December and eating the waxy piece of chocolate hiding behind the yuletide art. As an adult, I find the depth of diving into the words of God so much more fulfilling.

Last year was the first year that I purposely focused on the season of Advent. I did it imperfectly and missed some days, but it was definitely helpful to remember how much God loved me and to combat the lies that Satan brings during this season.

Last year during advent I focused on the word “joy” and even bought a little nativity set with this word prominent among the display of the manger. It was a year of hope as I looked forward to what I thought was ahead. I thought it would potentially be the last holiday season with my family for a while. God had another plan, but that’s another story. Joy is not the same as happiness. I still felt the pain of the hard times, but I knew that I had true joy because of the baby in the manger and the sacrifice that He made.

Christmas Karly Grant

This year, I still have the nativity set on display in my window sill, but as I look forward to the advent season, my word is “intentional.” I am going to intentionally spend time in the Word of God, intentionally focus on being real with Him in my prayers. Hard times will come. Emotions will come, but as I dive deeply into God’s Word and remember the truth of why we have so much to celebrate this season, I will be intentional about not allowing the lies of the enemy to overtake me or lead my thoughts down a road that only leads to destruction.  I pray that this year people will see the joy that comes from Christ as I am intentional about celebrating Him, even amongst the hard times, as I try to live out the words of 2 Corinthians 10:3-5:

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”


Karly Grant headshotKarly is a single 30-something who is striving to follow Jesus and trust Him in every situation. She can be found with a cup of tea or a good beer in hand while cozied up with a good book or enjoying a laugh with family or friends. God has her on a wild journey, but she is willing to trust Him.

Hope for the Dark Days of Christmas

Christmas has always been one of my most favorite times of year.  In the middle of the darkest months of winter, we decorate with lights, bright colors, and cheer.  If there is reason to be sad, we can effectively hide it behind joyous carols and celebratory gift giving.

And yet, for many, Christmas is a deeply painful time.  Well-meaning celebrations become reminders of what’s lost and broken.

When finances are stretched there are few reminders as bold and blaring as Christmas time sales.  When a loved one has been stripped from your arms, few reminders are as painful and stabbing as the Christmas time merriment.  When you’re emotionally or spiritually lost, Christmas seems more a mockery to pain than a gift from God.  When your family is broken, family gatherings, or lack thereof, can allow a dark loneliness to set in.

Jacqi Kambish Christmas

The lives we live are often surrounded by hardship and the  resulting damp, thick fog of sorrow can press in and easily take hold during the “most wonderful time of year.”

When I was a girl, I was always the first to object if the Christmas decorations had not been pulled out as soon as the Thanksgiving turkey had cooled.  Even as a child, one of the most beautiful things in the world to me was staring at the bright colors of Christmas as they broke through the darkness with a sense of hope and belief in something better.

I still live by that hope.  Even when life is hard and I lament the way things are, I can’t shake the hope and deeply seeded belief that the light always breaks through the darkness.

Right now, things are hard.  There are so many things threatening to dampen the joy of the season or snuff out the light in my heart.  But, hope always persists.

Jesus came into a world full of darkness: Political darkness, spiritual darkness, and emotional darkness.  Many sorrows had been suffered by the people living in those turbulent times.  Much like today, people were divided and an underlying thread of anger, hostility and fear had threaded its way into the culture.

And where was God?

God had been silent for some 400 years.

But we make a mistake if we believe that silence is the same as distance.  God hadn’t left or forgotten his people.

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And on that night, so long ago, the light of a star broke forth into the darkness and an infant took his first earthly breath.

Hope.

The beauty of Christmas isn’t a promise that life will always be what we wanted.  The beauty of Christmas is the belief that wrong doesn’t get to win; it’s the hope that no matter how bad it hurts or how difficult it is right now, that darkness doesn’t get the last word.  There is hope for healing and hope for betterment and hope for our souls.  There is hope for eternity and hope for our futures.

There is Christmas hope when darkness reigns.

Look up!

Lift up your head and see.

“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5

That is what we celebrate.

That is what we celebrate when there is nothing else.  That is what we celebrate when everything else hurts.

We celebrate the hope of Christ and the hope that God hasn’t given up on us yet, even if he does seem silent for a time.

We celebrate the hope that what’s broken can be fixed.

We celebrate the hope that God is in the redemption business and the last page of our stories hasn’t been written yet.

Because Christmas is all about hope; hope that what’s lost will be found.


Jacqi Kambish

Jacqi Kambish is a Christian mom to three spirited children striving to balance the daily demands of parenting a child with special needs and meeting the needs of typically developing siblings while working full time and writing.  She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Bible Theology and Youth Ministry from William Jessup University.  Jacqi lives with her family in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado and enjoys reflectively writing about parenting, faith, and the joys and trials of life while leaving her readers with hope and encouragement.  Her blog The Presumptuous Ladybug can be found at and you can connect with her on Facebook.

Deeper Longing

Author: Josh Hawes

It is that time of the year again. We all know it’s coming. It’s the season where everyone thinks I’m a grinch. That’s right. I am the guy who doesn’t want to hear Christmas music before Thanksgiving. The guy who likes to question traditions, much to the discomfort of many in my family. I have even risked asking, “but why do we have a tree? Could we not celebrate the birth of Christ without having to rearrange our furniture this year?” Much to the dismay of my wife and daughter.

Josh Hawes Christmas longingRelax, we have a tree up and decorated. All that to say that I do, in fact, love Christmas. I love family time spent together, and I love the deeper look into the coming, and inference of the anticipation, of the second coming of Christ.

Yet, this year is a little bit different. I say that because my wife and I are at a new place in regards to growing our family. We have just started the process of adopting an infant. And I do mean just starting, in that it could be two years before we meet the baby that God has in mind for us. This means the child may not even be conceived yet.

As most adoptive families will be able to tell you, most adoptions begin at a place of great pain and struggle for both the parents and the childours is no different. Years of negative pregnancy tests, a miscarriage, and two adoptions, while in our hearts forever, did not come to be. Not a month goes by that I don’t think “maybe this is the month” almost 7 years into my wife and I trying.

There is a deep longing for my wife and I, and an ever increasing anticipation that has been created by these trials. We wait for the moment when we will be able to hold in our arms that which we have dreamed about for years.

Christmas longing Josh HawesThis longing has become something of which I am keenly aware. It makes me reflect on what it must have been like for those in Israel before God’s promise became flesh in the form of a baby who would deliver them from their hopelessness. Within my soul I can feel that deep longing, the ache,  they must have felt, not just for their families, but for their nation, and ultimately, the world! They held to the promise:

 

 

“For to us a child is born,

   to us a son is given;

and the government shall be upon his shoulder,

   and his name shall be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

   Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” -Isaiah 9:6

I too can have that longing messily entwined with hope. Not for Jesus coming to save us, for he has done that to completion, but for His Second Coming. Where it says “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” A place where the sorrow, and effects of sin on this world, such as our struggle with infertility, will be no more. That longing is my deepest longing. That is the hope this season heralds—God is with us and He will make all things right.

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!

   Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!

Behold, your king is coming to you;

   righteous and having salvation is he,” -Zechariah 9:9


476f7-dsc_5558Josh Hawes is a hard worker, husband, and father who is trying to faithfully walk through life as he is made more like Christ.

Anchored Printable: Christmas

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

We here at Anchored Voices hope that this season is filled with joy, even if you are facing deep sorrow, because we know both can exist within one person simultaneously. Our circumstances may be hard, but our souls can be at rest in the truth that our SAVIOR was born!

We hope this printable, created by Sarah Dohman of Isaiah 9:6  will encourage you this holiday season.

 

Click Here to Grab Your Printable
Isaiah 9_6

Wisdom’s Doorway

Author: Kimberley Mulder

Garland, on a fantastic sale, roped me in. Soon I was deep in the scrolling, pictures of fake evergreen to festoon my doorway flitting before me. Fantasies of sparkling greenery shimmering in new-fallen snow glimmered in my imagination. Until I realized how much time had passed and that I had purposed to write today about the doorway to wisdom! Wisdom’s doorway is not draped with discount plastic greenery!

Proverbs 8 is the personification of Wisdom, and in it she calls out to us. In verse 34 we read:

“Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway.” Prov. 8:34

How inviting, how decked out would Wisdom’s house be? Would it be the grandest on the block? The simplest but most elegant? The unadorned? What would cry out to the passersby “Wisdom lives here!”

I picture a palace; a high, gilded doorway, rich with gold and fancy with filigree. Floors of exquisite colored tiles. Enormous, breathtaking paintings. This would make me want to linger in awe like a tourist in an exotic palace.

Maybe Wisdom’s doorway would be filled with ancient splendor that only the attentive archaeologist knows is valuable. The uninformed or fad follower would pass by it as old junk.

Christmas Kimberley MulderHow does one recognize Wisdom’s doorway?

By knowing who lives inside. The doorway is marked by the presence, not the decorations, not the gilded ornament, not the scuff marks. It is recognizable by the life lived inside. And it is found only by those willing to look for it.

The Magi wanted to find Wisdom. They saw and followed Wisdom, by starlight, to a wooden stable. Hinges loose, door banging, straw and refuse on the floor. Splintering wood beams. The doorway they stood in as they offered their gifts of sacrifice and love to Wisdom himself was nothing like a king’s.

But the Magi understood something that we often ignore or dispute – and that is that wisdom often leads in unlikely ways to unlikely places. They humbled themselves to the unlikely.

Kimberley Mulder ChristmasThey sought, watched, listened, waited, and anticipated with hope. They trusted that “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me. With me are riches and honor, enduring wealth and prosperity.” Prov. 8:17-18

And when the star led them to foreign lands, to the living quarters of livestock, they did not balk. Instead, they lingered in the splinter-beamed doorway of the King. What unlikely place might wisdom be leading you? It might be a low doorway under which you need to bow your head. You will know it by the Presence inside.

Consider: Jesus said that he is the gate (John 10:7 and 9). Now marry that with Proverb 8 and we see that “Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors.” Prov. 8:34

So I consider: At which doorway am I lingering daily? Am I looking for flash and fancy when Wisdom is in the mundane? Am I trying to gloss and decorate the truth? Am I too busy hunting down the best bargain on a gift (or a garland) to seek the treasure of life? Am I lingering at Wisdom’s doorway or at Walmart’s?


2016-11-02 13.10.06Kimberley Mulder is a contemplative at heart who deeply enjoys the company of Jesus in the day-to-day of caring for her family of 5 (plus a dog and a cat), teaching English to immigrants, growing her garden, and writing. Currently, her walk with Jesus is taking her more deeply into writing as she leads a spiritual formation group at her church, and records the reflections and connections Jesus gives her to share with others.  She treasures the truth that God’s Word does not go back to him without accomplishing the purpose for which he sent it, and that that Word is embodied in our lives. (Isaiah 55:11)

The Christmas Baby

This Christmas season of tinsel, trees, and treats brings only joy—for some. For others, it feels like a cruel reminder of life’s disappointments or awakens emotions about absent family members.  For both, Christmas might be a time when the magic of the manger gets lost in the pressing realities of life. This year for me, I find myself looking up, thinking not of a babe in a manger, but of Jesus on the cross or of the great, supreme, and holy God who sent Him there.

Christmas Sarah Clews“When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—
    the moon and the stars you set in place—
 what are mere mortals that you should think about them,
    human beings that you should care for them?Psalm 8:3-4 (NLT)

Thinking about the God of the universe can be a frightening and intimidating thought. He, God the Father, is so big, so majestic, so all knowing, and sometimes, feels so far away. Does the God who created the whole world care about me? Do the life events of my family and friends affect Him at all?

I saw a friend post on Facebook, “Sometimes I wonder if God even cares.” While I felt a surge of sadness reading that, I have to admit at times I’ve wondered the same thing. If I think about it too hard, my mind starts swirling and I feel utterly helpless and insignificant—a blip in time that will soon fade.

That’s why, as Christmas approaches, the reminder of the gift of God’s son is so incredible. Immanuel—“God is with us.”

Sarah Clews ChristmasIn case we doubted whether God could sympathize, or whether our daily lives matter to Him, He sent His only son—a gift of love. In case we doubted whether God was invested in the outcome of humanity, or whether He might destroy us in a fit of disgust, He sent His son to take on a human form. Jesus is a sign to us of the significance God attributes to the human race. He is invested! So invested that He sent His only Son to join humanity on earth and later sacrifice His life on the cross to purchase our freedom.

Recently I heard again the familiar lyrics of “Silent Night.” This time one line really stood out. “Silent night! Holy night! Son of God, love’s pure light.”

That old familiar story of a baby lying in a manger in a stable does have magic after all. Because that baby was Jesus—“love’s pure light.” The purest form of love and the most tangible reminder of God’s heart for us.


sarah-c-squareSarah Clews is a wife, mother of two little girls, and prolific reader. She received her BS from Corban University in English and still loves writing. She helps her husband run their martial arts school, and in her free time, enjoys sewing, experimenting with makeup, and reading blogs.

When Peace on Earth Seems Impossible

I love reading by Christmas tree light. In the faint warmth of its incandescent illumination I feel hope. The gentle radiance enfolds me into a brief retreat during the bustle of the holiday season. The calm soothes in the midst of the distresses of our broken world, and collides with the disquiet hiding in the corners of my soul.

I find my mind tranquilly wandering into history and the pastoral suburbs of shepherds living under stars, watching woolly animals breathing in, breathing out. I mull over what those men might have been thinking as they watched the calm repose taking place on the fields in front of them. How could they have known that in the provincial life they had become so accustomed to, they would be met by the miraculous?

I long for an angel to appear in front of me proclaiming “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Luke2:10-11. I wait for the miraculous in my own life and am sometimes discouraged by the mundane tasks I find it hiding behind. However, I see myself as no more than a shepherd longing to be met by the Savior of the world. Humbled, I am again reminded the ways of God are not (usually) my ways, and find myself dwelling deeply in mystery that is woven together by penetrating truth and profound beauty.

Even as a person sure in her faith, peace on Earth seems such an impossible ideal. I am painfully aware of the fallen nature of the world. I cannot fool myself into dreaming about this tolerant peace the Christmas specials preach as trees spring up in homes and plastic Santa faces watch through snow-flocked windows.

I know Jesus brought peace to Earth that night in the city of David, but I can’t help but wonder if He took it with Him when He ascended into heaven? His presence through the Holy Spirit provides rest for all that seek Him, and salvation for those He calls His own, and yet, peace seems elusive; rumors of wars, racial injustice, and unspeakable terror plague our daily existence. I am assured of the peace within my soul, but peace on Earth?

Jesus told us “”Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14:3. We are promised peace, in its fullness, is coming to Earth once more, and He has made room for us to join Him.

This anticipation, this wondering what it will look like, and this falling asleep begging Him to move, all point me to that baby in the manger who grew to be the savior on the cross. Seeing Him gives me the strength to engage in moving towards peace by praying for patience and holding tight to His word as carols hang in December’s crisp air.

I can have hope in the dark, for I know the light is coming. Widowed father of six and literary great Henry Wadsworth Longfellow endured in his asking for a harmonious world and goodwill towards men as He listened carefully to holy cantatas calling through the noise of the Civil War. Through sorrow He wrote “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” from the hospital bed side of his severely injured son, a war time Lieutenant.

“…Till ringing, singing on its way,

The world revolved from night to day,

A voice, a chime,

A chant sublime

Of peace on Earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth

The cannon thundered in the South,

And with the sound

The carols drowned

Of peace on Earth, good-will to men!…

…Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The Wrong shall fail,

The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men.'”

When the heaviness of the world presses in, I can turn to the mighty promises of a Living God for strength. He cannot be shaken, so I am emboldened to move forward as a peacemaker. With great joy I offer myself as an ambassador carrying the promise of powerful reconciliation, because this hope I have—the Prince of Peace has interrupted the routine of common men with the glory of the Lord before, and He will do it again. Just because I have trouble wrapping my mind around what that will look like doesn’t keep it from being true. So, come Jesus, come. I want to believe. I am praying for peace on Earth.

~~~

Readers, Whatever Christmas looks like for you this year, remember there is no greater gift than the one that is yours through Christ Jesus. Whether your Christmas season has been filled with sorrow or joy, the hope that is yours through Jesus cannot be shaken. Christmas is the celebration of the redemption of God breaking into dark places. Fear not, He has overcome and because of that there is joy! 

e9d88-chara2bbio2bpic2bsquare2b600pxChara is a freelance writer, certified biblical counselor, and speaker. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She loves to write about faith, culture,  and the deep truths that drive our fascinations with it. Chara is the founder and editor of  Anchored Voices and can be found on multiple social media platforms @CharaDonahue.

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas (My Single Mother Gave to Me)

When pine trees and baking supplies started making their way into my home as a young child, I, accompanied by my stealth-like snooping skills, made my way to my mother’s best kept hiding places. I was a peeker. A present-peeker to be precise, and Christmas mornings were filled with anticipation not because of the surprise that awaited, but because I already knew what the wrapping cloaked. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the toys I had already previewed.

As a wise single mom, my mother would intentionally start purchasing gifts months ahead of time, so her budget could handle blessing her three children. This gave me plenty of time to seek and find. I would climb over dressers and toss sleeping bags that shouldn’t have been touched till summer all in an effort to spoil her surprise. I never once wondered “Will we get anything?” What I didn’t understand was the amount of sacrifice my mother made to ensure that we never considered questions like that.

Now as a mother of four, I marvel at all she did. Breaking up my children’s tiny-bodied, big-voiced arguments, instructing them in life skills like using a toilet, and trying to teach young hearts about maturing faith can leave me feeling exhausted, but my husband is in the thick of it with me, tagging in when I tap out. My mother held to Jesus and persevered. As her children slept, she pushed through exhaustion to correct the homework I finally did, sew the flags my sister spun, and figure out how she could afford to buy her son’s first instrument, who (unbeknownst to her) would one day play at Carnegie Hall.

She may have been a single mother, but she offered us a home that felt complete, whole. She changed my sister’s diapers and attended my brother’s games. She pulled me away from parties and lifted us up with prayers. She showed us all what it was to be at rest when the world demanded we strive, and nurtured an imperfect situation into a life that did not lack.

Sneaking through my house as a child, I wasn’t aware that our most precious things were not things at all, but memories, people, and faith. I was too distracted by the deluge of bows, desserts, and carols to see my mother draw strength from the baby depicted in the old wooden manger she put on display through out the holidays. She offered me the luxury of being so busy with childish things that I forgot to be thankful for her unwavering determination to create a home that offered sanctuary from the harshness of the world.

The memories she has given me offer riches greater than any reindeer-papered gift could ever give. I have them tucked away into the treasuries of my heart for the days when I need hope. I will always be grateful for the worn Bible that often laid open upon her bed, her constant presence, and the way she offered children who had experienced deep sorrow a place of peace.

“Her children rise up and call her blessed…” Proverbs 31:28

Readers, Are you a single mom? Thank you for all you do. I know it’s not easy, but those kids will someday be grateful. They just got to grow up a little ;).

Do you know a single mom who could use some encouragement today? How could you be the one to offer it?

Chara is a freelance writer, certified biblical counselor, and speaker. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She loves to write about faith, culture,  and the deep truths that drive our fascinations with it. Chara is the founder and editor of  Anchored Voices and can be found on multiple social media platforms @CharaDonahue.