Tuesday With Teri

Devotions from lessons I'm learning from God

Tape November 28, 2022

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 10:16 am

My 10 year old self would be embarrassed.  I once loved wrapping gifts, the bows were the most important part of course.  I am sure this was due to the care and pride my mother took in topping our packages with handmade bows and curly ribbons.  I have a memory (faint now due to time) of actually trying to make my bows look like ribbon candy.  The paper itself was usually carefully picked out to reflect a theme of choice.  Boxes were procured to ensure items could be wrapped neatly…and the tape, lets discuss the TAPE.  Commercials for scotch tape glorified the attributes of “invisible tape”.  They even showed one package with its obviously taped sides compared to the “invisible tape” version which looked as if held together by magic.  Any self-respecting wrapper would choose the “invisible tape”.

This weekend I began my wrapping of gifts which will be sent to family far away. I long ago gave up on crafting pretty bows. These gifts will be crammed into a box for shipping and the days of trying to ship them with protected fluffy bows has past.  My youthful exuberance for neatly wrapped gifts has given way to “eh, that’s good enough” efforts of covering the item.  Sadly, I apparently do not feel compelled to find a perfect box, some things are simply swaddled in gobs of tissue or paper.  As I picked up my tape dispenser (shockingly left over from last season), I noticed it was the afore mentioned “invisible” kind.  Funny, my focus on how my gifts get wrapped has certainly changed, and yet still HOW they are held together stays the same…perhaps just an example of good marketing on the part of the tape maker, maybe just purchase habits engrained over the years…honestly, when you see my wrapping  that fact it is even held together is remarkable, let alone the need for it to be invisible.

As I turned one of my packages over in my hand, surveying my less than stellar work, I thought of how much it was a reflection of the wrapper herself.  My effort for perfect appearances, attention to detail and a carefully curated life have given way to simply holding on for dear life and trying not to make too big of a mess of things.   But I KNOW what holds me together, my HOPE in Christ Jesus. Like that invisible tape, it is unseen and yet still certain.

“For in this hope we are saved.  But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? Romans 8:24”

No matter how wonderful, lovely, good, difficult, uncertain, or scary life may be…Jesus is our HOPE.  Hope will not be found in financial stability, a spouse, a career, things of this world…these things are limited. True hope is found in trusting God even when circumstances are difficult.

This week of advent we focus on our HOPE in Christ Jesus.  This week if you too see messy packages with hastily tied or tangled ribbons, let them remind us….life is messy, we are all a mess, but God loves us no matter our mess.  God sent his Son, Jesus, to gather our brokenness, forgive us, heal us, and to give us a HOPE for salvation.   

 

A Christmas Tree Angel December 24, 2021

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 7:39 am

This year, as I unpacked our fragile angel tree topper, I felt somewhat prepared for her condition. Each Christmas the impact of her years is unmisable, even more so since our Christmases are frequently on our boat. Though carefully tucked away in a protective box, a boat is no place for such fragility. Once again her head, reattached with glue just last year, was seperate from her torso. A thicker layer of glue now forms an ugly necklace around her delicate neck. Her wax candle has discolored even more and barley recognizable as it extends from her mishapen hand. But as always, and perhpas even more each year, I love her. I love her not only becasue of the sweet memoireis I have of her in her splendid early years, but also becasue with passing time I am reminded of the fragility of life. This year I am mindful of the treasure of each day and thankful for a God who loves us and holds our future. So here again is the retelling of a lesson I learned many Christmases ago as I sat in the quiet of my livingroom, a lesson that I will never forget each year she is placed on our tree in all her glory.

I’m not sure where she came from. (update: someone recognized her and informed me she is a Nuremberg angel!) I’m not even certain of her age. (update: As a Nuremberg angel, we probably acquired her when my family lived in Germany when dad was in the Air Force…this would make her well over 50 yrs!)

She sat atop the Christmas tree for many of my growing up years, quietly presiding over each holiday season.  I acquired her from my mother many years ago.

Her gold foil, cardboard wings, once ended in perfect points extending her stature to seven inches.  Now her wing span is slightly reduced, as the tips went from being slightly bent, to folded, until they eventually tore off.  Her dark red velvet dress, trimmed with gold brick brack, fits snuggly to her waist before flowing over her cardboard form.  Her once silky, radiant white hair, now hangs in brittle coils around her shoulders.  A little gold foil halo covers a place on her head where some of her hair has given way to the passage of time.

Her head and hands are made of wax, as is the candle she holds in one hand.  I remember her as a beautiful lady, her face perfect and delicate.  Those qualities are now faded.  Her head, once held high and straight, has melted somewhat.  It now bows lovingly downward and a bit to the right.  Two years ago a significant amount of time and effort was put into re-attaching her long held candle to her now miss shaped hand.  Yep, she’s a bit of mess you might say.  I like that about her.

She doesn’t light up or sparkle, and quite often she is too small for the tree, making her look even more out of place.  But I look forward to her presence in my living room each Christmas.  Late at night, when the tree is lit and others have gone on to bed, I find myself thinking of her and all we have in common.

I too, know what it’s like to have my wings bent and torn.  I know what it feels like when your body gives itself over to the challenges of time.  My hair is no longer silky or radiant, and I only wish had a halo to hide the places where it has become thin.  I understand the sagging of her shoulders and the bowing of her head.  I have felt the weight every mother bears for her family.  I know the need to bow my head in constant prayer.   I love her imperfection.  She’s a holiday reminder that God loves us in our imperfection.

A love full of grace, a savior born to take on the sin of the world, a reason to celebrate, reflected in the melted features and unraveled edges of our Christmas tree Angel.

 

Has Anyone Seen Baby Jesus? December 18, 2021

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 3:38 pm

It is the fourth week leading up to Christmas. In some homes a candle will be lit as hearts are bowed to consider the theme of Love. While we won’t be lighting a candle, I am filled to overflowing with renewed understanding of God’s love.

This Thanksgiving we were blessed to host both of our moms (from Florida), our daughter (from Texas) our son, his wife and our three awesome granddaughters.  Traditionally, when we manage to be together as a family anytime near the holidays, we celebrate Christmas early. It may be a faux Christmas, but it still gets plenty of attention, which means Christmas décor goes up days before guest arrive (I am not complaining, I would put up décor in October if the hubby would let me).

We wrapped ourselves in the sweet chaos of a house filled with multiple generations. My heart was full! At some point in the festivities, I noticed baby Jesus was missing.

We have two nativity sets. One is from when our kids were little. Its resin figurines have withstood many years of being handled as our kids, and now our grandkids, rearranged the stable scene regularly.  Our other Nativity is from when I was a little girl. For as long as I can recall, my parents allowed me to set up this wooden hay filled stable. I have fond memories of strategically placing each plastic nativity participant. Because of its age, we do not encourage little ones to play with it, but we also do not panic if curious fingers inspect its contents. This was the case when Parker, our 3yr old granddaughter cradled the tiny baby Jesus and declared his name was not Jesus, “His name is Love”.

After a days of feasting, gifting, movie watching and playing I noticed the little manger was bare. “Has anyone seen the baby Jesus?” I called out to the family. Nope. Oh well, I knew it would turn up, so I delayed the search and rescue. On the final night of their visit, my husband established a reward. “$20 to whoever finds baby Jesus!”  The next hour was filled with a hilarious hunt for baby Jesus, pitting grandmothers, grandchildren and great-granddaughters against one another for the prize. Everyone was busy searching…everyone except Parker, who continued to quietly sit at the table playing with her playdough. We knew she was the last one seen with baby Jesus…cue her mommy sitting down beside her and starting a gentle interrogation:

Mommy: Parker, do you know where baby Jesus is?

Parker: no

Mommy: are you sure?

Parker: Yes

Mommy: you played with it earlier, are you sure you don’t remember where you put it?

Parker: Oh, you mean Baby Love? (OOOOOHHHHH a collective understanding filled the room)

Parker: Baby Love is taking a nap in the bed.

Competitive “baby Jesus” hunters rushed the doll bed…sure enough, tucked beneath the bedding was little baby Love….and THAT is how a new Miller Christmas tradition called find “Find Baby Love” was started. (We intend to recreate a version of this each year)

It is also a wonderful reminder to not loose baby Jesus in the midst of Christmas chaos. The greatest revealing of God’s love for us can be found in a manger…not hidden. This week may we all be “Baby Jesus hunters” …. finding God’s love in the beauty of His creation and the grace and forgiveness He offers us through Jesus Christ His son.

“This is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (1John 4:10)

 

Peace Stealer December 13, 2021

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 9:36 am

First, we are safe. For anyone new to our blog, we live aboard our boat some of the year, and we are currently headed South aboard her. As I sit to write this advent post about PEACE, things are not too peaceful aboard our boat. The best news is that none of our current problems put us in great danger, the boat is not sinking or in peril. The bad news is that we are encountering some rather large mechanical issues.  We are aware of a stabilizer that is not working (A big deal when we go offshore as they steady the boat in rough seas), and we have a propeller shaft that is not right (which could create bigger issues if not addressed).

I know of all manner of ways to keep this in perspective: we pass sunken/damaged boats daily on the waterway, we are afloat, we have good weather, we are able to get to a marina safely, we have access to resources to help us, we are blessed to even have this boat, it is not a life or death thing…and so on and so on.  Yet, when our boat is broken, it inevitably leads to a very unsettled state of mind. Visions of “where to go, what needs to be done, who can do it, how does it impact our cruising plan” soon overwhelm our thoughts. It is not the broken systems that are creating the lack of peace though…it is more the unsettledness of it all.

Unsettled…I let that sit for a bit in my head as we discussed our plan A, B, C for dealing with our situation. Blessed to have options, my heart still sank at the loss of our well-planned trip. The not knowing for certain what the next few days will look like, or how it will change in the next few weeks, is a powerful peace stealer. This last sentence makes me laugh as I realize the lack of peace I feel is NOT due to our broken boat. My lack of peace is due to feeling out of control of my situation. To be honest, this in not an uncommon battle for me.

I am sure it is not by accident that I was in the middle of writing this post when all this began to take place. As usual God was nudging me, not so gently, toward Him. Way too often I let my unsettled mind drift toward anxiety as I seek to wrestle my circumstance into my control. In little things, like boat issues, and huge things, like health/family/finances, God has always been in control.  He has yelled loudly “I’ve got this!” in my life through Phil 4:6&7:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God.  And a peace that surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

And yet, here I am…still allowing my peace to be stolen away by things of this world. Life does not always go as planned. While this time it is just a boat, I realize this is true for all our lives and in more impactful ways. Today I consider the PEACE we are given through Jesus Christ. He came to redeem us all and by grace, through his life, death and resurrection, we are reconciled to Him. In Him I can be forgiven of my sin, know His love and trust He is in control. This is a gift…peace in my heart that God still loves me even when I stumble, peace in my life even when the world goes wonky. He is greater than me and greater than the world.

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14:27

This week may we all know His peace…Let Him settle our hearts during unsettled times.

 

Blinded by Baubles, Bells and Bright Lights December 5, 2021

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 3:55 pm

Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we pause to remember the birth of our Savior.  Observing advent is a way to keep the focus on the true reason for celebration at Christmas.  It is a time to pause and reflect on my own struggle as a sinner in a fallen world and my deep need for God’s grace, forgiveness and love.  The birth of Jesus Christ is worthy of great celebration when we are aware of our great need and understand His birth, life, death and resurrection is the only thing that meets that need. 

Too often we are blinded in the baubles, bells and bright lights of the holidays and miss the point of it all….you know, like when you host the family for Thanksgiving, celebrate an early Christmas since everyone will be in town, then a few days afterward prepare for extended travel and busy yourself with planning, packing and losing all sense of the passing days as you sip hot cocoa and listen to Christmas tunes…YEP totally me, and the reason I find myself just now (an advent day late) sitting down and looking to God’s Word for His advent message for me.   “Lord, I missed the day of HOPE and now I need to consider JOY. I don’t want to be so caught up in life that I missed the most important parts.”   I looked at my hands folded in prayer and saw the fingers of HOPE interlocked with the fingers of JOY.  I may have missed last Sunday’s focus on hope, but I have not missed the message.

Hope is defined as a “confident expectation”.  It is often confused with wishing, it is not the same.  Oh, a wish is an expectation, but it is not rooted in confidence of completion.  Hope, Biblical hope, is deeply rooted in confident expectation.  This HOPE is what sustains us in difficult days, uncertain times and unsettled futures.  This hope, confident expectation, is found when we place our hope in God.  We can be confident because HE fulfills His promises…always has, always will. 

The world waited for the fulfillment of God’s promise to send salvation.  They hoped for a savior to reconcile a broken world with a Holy God.  In the birth of Christ this hope was realized….our hope was realized.  In Him we find forgiveness and grace.  Believing Jesus is the Son of God, that he died and rose again to pay for our sins, asking for and accepting forgiveness is the salvation of man.  THAT is the good news of great joy of which the angles spoke to the shepherds in that darkened field.

“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great JOY which shall be for ALL the people.” Luke 2:10

This JOY is more than happiness.  Happiness can be fulfilling, but it can also be fleeting.  Joy is NOT fleeting.  JOY is like a weight lifted, a door opened, a breathe taken, a debt forgiven. It is from inside and not due to our own actions or circumsatnce. Joy is knowing God loves us, forgives us, and has a plan for us and will not leave us.

This week the days may continue to speed past, or perhaps the days will get bogged down under the weight of a chaotic world, but my desire is to let every bauble, bell and bright light, not blind me, but remind me of the HOPE I have in God and the JOY salvation brings to us all.

 

Top Button June 24, 2021

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 2:51 pm
Photo by ShotPot on Pexels.com

I know it has been a while since I wrote in this blog, but felt lead to share today.  I am probably not the only one hoping to hear “well done my good and faithful servant” and not  “eh, good enough”  when I get to heaven…the struggle is real, but our God is greater!

I wish I had caught her name,  she was a guest on a radio show I was randomly listening to, but God sure used her to rattle my cage…I almost had to pull over as her words hit home so hard my heart jolted.  

It was a brilliant analogy.  She said, (basically) “you know when you’re rushing and not paying attention and you’re trying to button your shirt.  You then realize you missed the top button and that made all the other buttons out of line as well…if you get the top button right, the others are easier to line up.”

Been there, done that…often.  Not only have I missed the all important “top button” on my own shirt, when my kids were little getting their buttons all wonky was a common occurrence  when I helped them dress.  The commentator encouraged listeners to focus on their “top button”…start with your own heart, start with God, the rest will follow.

I pulled into the grocery store parking lot, turned off the radio and let that God sent message sink in.  I had spent the better part of the night prior, and the morning, stewing on  things not in my control.  Anxiety was radiating through my every thought…anxiety about things, people, situations I could not change.  I had lost track of my OWN button.  Even though it did not have buttons, I fiddled with my collar and bowed my head.  “ Lord help me spend more time seeking You, reading Your Word, desiring to please You.  Keep me from letting life, people, situations become more centric than You. Thank You for the grace You continually give me  and help me to be quicker in giving grace to those You place in my life. “

 

Still Abigail… April 2, 2021

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 3:42 pm

I know, many have read this before…but It will forever be a part of my heart and I can’t help but share it each year. The world may be confusing in so many ways, but His Word is clear, God so loved the world… He calls us worthy of such a price…this is love.  Let us love one another, as He has loved us!

Abigail:

I’ve lost track of how many years ago it was, yet each Spring I can’t help but recall my introduction to Abigail.  I was a high school science/Bible teacher for a small Christian school at the time. One of my students was a football sized young man named Nick.  He worked for a local farmer who had offered him a young lamb to take home.  Nick’s mom, apparently destined for sainthood, not only allowed him to bring the lamb home, but he got to keep it in his room!  Early that Spring Nick brought photos to share.  To my amazement, there, wedged beside his bed and amid typical teenage squalor, was a carefully built pen, complete with wood rails, chicken wire and hay.  Abigail the lamb had found a perfect home.  Over the next few weeks Nick would have numerous stories to tell of Abigail’s antics.  I couldn’t wait to see her for myself, so I invited Nick to bring her to school one morning.

I ushered my entire class outside and we waited like giddy preschoolers for Abigail’s arrival.  I am certain I will never be able to adequately describe what I saw that day.  I will do my best.  We watched as Nick emerged from his vehicle with Abigail cradled in his big burly arms.  We stood transfixed by the sight of what can only be inadequately referred to as precious”.  Her pure, white coat seemed almost translucent, radiating light under the bright blue, cloudless sky.   Her tiny nose was a perfect, pink velvet triangle perched just above her little pink mouth.    As I placed my hand on her sweet little head she looked at me.  I found myself staring into the depths of clear, brilliant blue eyes.  I realized I had been holding my breath in awe.  We were expecting to see a cute lamb, somewhat off white in color.  I had not considered that, unlike the lambs at the local petting zoo, Abigail had been living in a clean, loving, environment.  After everyone had made Abigail’s acquaintance, Nick left to return her home and we settled back into Bible class.

We soon realized the relevance of Abigail’s visit as we continued our study of Passover.  The original Passover took place when Moses was leading the Israelites out of Egypt.  God instructed them to mark their door post with the blood of a male lamb.  This was to protect them from the final plague which was the death of all first born in any home not so protected. (Exodus 11&12)  The yearly commemoration of this event required the father to select the best, blemish free lamb and set it apart for the Passover…four days prior to the celebration.  My students and I began to consider something quite startling.  There was a good chance that the lamb would have been brought into the house or yard during that time.  This perfect little lamb, probably as precious and sweet as our Abigail, may have clamored under their feet while they did chores, fed out of their hands and shared a living area.  After four days, this lamb, which by now had become even more precious to the family, was to be sacrificed.   Suddenly one can imagine the cries of the children, the quite sob of their mother, the sorrow in the eyes of the father who knows a blood sacrifice is required.   For the first time, since meeting Abigail, we could truly envision the “sacrificial lamb” of the Scriptures.

The continued observance of Passover was a powerful object lesson for generations of Israelites.  Every family member would be reminded not only of God’s protection and provision when He freed them from slavery, but also of the cost…the blood of their most precious lamb.  This Easter we consider the final sacrifice.  Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, perfect and precious beyond description, was sacrificed for our sin.  Many movies and videos have stirred the heart of man as they depict the brutal crucifixion of our Christ, yet none can compare to the vision of Abigail.  As we celebrate our freedom from sin and death through the resurrection of our Lord, let’s never forget the cost.  Praise God His love and grace make us worthy of such a sacrifice!

1 Peter 1:18-19 

“knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold…but with precious blood, as a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”

 

December 24, 2020

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 10:59 am

A Christmas Tree Angel….reposting this story has become a tradition. This year, for everyone, Christmas looks a little different. My beloved life weary angel no longer presided over an evergreen tree. This year her perch is atop a tree fashioned for crab pot wire on our boat. NO longer safely stored in our home, she has had better starts to her year ( as have we all). She lost her head in the transition from house to boat, but we are happy to report she has been restored. I love her all the more each year. Now, in the lopsided tilt of her head, in the small “scar” of glue we used to reset her head, I am reminded not just of grace, but of the hope of restoration. This season we celebrate the Savior Who came to give us a path to forgiveness. In Him our brokenness is restored. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and new beginnings!

 I’m not sure where she came from. (update: at my last post someone recognized her and informed me she is a Nuremberg angel!) I’m not even certain of her age. (update: As a Nuremberg angel, we probably acquired her when my family lived in Germany when dad was in the Air Force…this would make her well over 50 yrs!)

She sat atop the Christmas tree for many of my growing up years, quietly presiding over each holiday season.  I acquired her from my mother many years ago.

Her gold foil, cardboard wings, once ended in perfect points extending her stature to seven inches.  Now her wing span is slightly reduced, as the tips went from being slightly bent, to folded, until they eventually tore off.  Her dark red velvet dress, trimmed with gold brick brack, fits snuggly to her waist before flowing over her cardboard form.  Her once silky, radiant white hair, now hangs in brittle coils around her shoulders.  A little gold foil halo covers a place on her head where some of her hair has given way to the passage of time.

Her head and hands are made of wax, as is the candle she holds in one hand.  I remember her as a beautiful lady, her face perfect and delicate.  Those qualities are now faded.  Her head, once held high and straight, has melted somewhat.  It now bows lovingly downward and a bit to the right.  Two years ago a significant amount of time and effort was put into re-attaching her long held candle to her now miss shaped hand.  Yep, she’s a bit of mess you might say.  I like that about her.

She doesn’t light up or sparkle, and quite often she is too small for the tree, making her look even more out of place.  But I look forward to her presence in my living room each Christmas.  Late at night, when the tree is lit and others have gone on to bed, I find myself thinking of her and all we have in common.

I too, know what it’s like to have my wings bent and torn.  I know what it feels like when your body gives itself over to the challenges of time.  My hair is no longer silky or radiant, and I only wish had a halo to hide the places where it has become thin.  I understand the sagging of her shoulders and the bowing of her head.  I have felt the weight every mother bears for her family.  I know the need to bow my head in constant prayer.   I love her imperfection.  She’s a holiday reminder that God loves us in our imperfection.

A love full of grace, a savior born to take on the sin of the world, a reason to celebrate, reflected in the melted features and unraveled edges of our Christmas tree Angel.

God’s love was revealed among us in this way. God sent His son into the world so we might live through Him. 1 John 4:9

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 

The Missing “But” December 22, 2020

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 12:51 pm

Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we pause to remember the advent of Jesus. In some households a candle is lit for each of the advent themes…this week we consider Love.

Love.  It should be the easiest to write about of all the advent themes, and yet for the last few years it has been one of the more challenging.  I actually have been writing this post off and on for days.  For those of you who know me, it will not surprise you to learn I had amassed over 800 words about love.  I rose early to finish the tome and wrap it up in some sort of neat phrase or top it with a scripture, like a bow on a gift….instead, I erased it all.   As I sat with coffee in hand, my mind had wandered to a casual conversation I’d had recently.  It was the sort of conversation that begins with a type of apology/affirmation before it rolls out some sort of negative comment or judgment.  It went a little like this,  “ You know I love you, but, (insert the behavior I wished changed).”   It occurred to me that this is a phrase I will never hear from God.  Suddenly all my previous words seemed inadequate when I thought about the importance of that missing “but”.

I know He loves me.  I know that I celebrate Christmas because of the evidence of His love in sending His Son.  Christ came to take on my sin, to redeem me, a salvation that is brimming with abundant grace. This is love. 

Oh how easily He could say, “I love you, but you need too….”, “I love you, but this needs to happen…”, “I love you, but not like you are…”, yet He does not.  Instead God offers us a love that says, “I love you even though…” 

“…God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”(Romans 5:8)

This is LOVE.  It is grace, undeserved forgiveness and favor.  Yes, He wants us to love others, yes He calls us to follow His commandments, yes He desires us to live in a way that is pleasing to Him, for this is also for our benefit…yet His love does not depend on those things. 

 Today, I am thinking about the missing “but“.  No doubt my continued struggles with the flesh must disappoint, sadden and exasperate Him…How relieved I am at the  certainty that He is not shaking His head in the heavens and sighing  “I love you, but…”  Instead He is shouting “I love you”.   It is a “no buts about it” kind of love…in every breath, in the beauty of His creation,  in the canopy of stars, in the roar of the wind and waves, in chaos and in stillness He is shouting “I love you”. May we welcome His proclamation of love and  accept the gift of His forgiveness through Jesus Christ His son.

 

Hallmark Christmas Peace December 16, 2020

Filed under: devotionals — tlmiller82 @ 5:33 pm

Each week, four leading up to Christmas, we pause to remember the birth of Jesus. In some households a candle is lit for each of the advent themes. These days we live aboard a boat, so instead we will “turn on” a flameless candle as we consider this third advent theme of PEACE.

It is a Christmas miracle!  Well, not quite, but still an amazing turn of events in our home.  You see, I love Hallmark/Lifetime Christmas movies.  Usually, around this time of year, you can find me tucked up on the sofa in the late evening hours, eyes glazed over, and enjoying a collection of holiday shows.  My beloved is NORMALLY on travel for work for many of those nights, that is not the case this year.  This year, I must share my TV time.  Thanks to Covid, all his work travel is suspended and I was concerned the hubby would put a bit of a damper on my late-night holiday viewing habits.  Oh, there was initial resistance, and binge watching is out of the question, BUT eventually he submitted to watching one per night, most nights.

At first, I thought he just succumbed to my whines for upbeat, holiday themed entertainment, but I believe he discovered a way to enjoy them himself.     He seemed to take pleasure in making a game of guessing the plot, location, and ending of each one.  Him: “Okay, they live in Seattle/Chicago/New York, travel to hometown/small town/big city, endure awkward reunion/meeting/enemy which grows into love as they save the local community center/church/house/farm/business.”  He is not wrong.  Hallmark/Lifetime holiday fare is full of predictable fluff and seldom Oscar worthy performances, but that matters not to me.

I know why I am still drawn to these Christmastime tropes.  First, the scenery.  Who doesn’t love to see city lights, country/small-town/farm Christmas décor, snow covered landscapes and starry nights?  Secondly, I am entertained by the acting.  Yes, I said it, THE ACTING.  I like seeing familiar faces of actors who I recognized from older shows and ‘back in the day’. Its kind of comforting to see actors, perhaps past their prime, resurfacing as a kindly grandfather/wise grandmother or sage townsperson. I also like seeing the young/unknowns whose performances are only slightly above that of a community theatre production.  While sometimes laughable, there is something charming, vulnerable about watching imperfect performers work at their craft to tell a story.  But the biggest reason for my holiday movie habit is the predictability that there WILL be a happy ending.  At some point the characters, separated by time, hurts, distance, values, misunderstandings, or wrongs, will inevitably find forgiveness, healing, meaning, hope and happiness.  People, towns folk, family members, lost loves will be reconciled with one another.  There is ALWAYS a reconciliation, a peace that is restored.  To me, reconciliation is one of the most important aspects of why we celebrate Christmas.

God is our creator, but our relationship with Him needs reconciliation.  Sin (mine and yours) separates man from God. But that is not how God desired it to be, He loves us. God sent Jesus, His son, to earth to take on the ultimate consequence for our sin, and in this He gave us a way for such reconciliation.  There is NO way I could ever be perfect, without sin.  I cannot, even if I tried with all my being, earn God’s forgiveness.  When Jesus died, and rose again, He provided a path for forgiveness.  Through my faith in Him I can ask God to forgive me, and He does.  He reconciles us to Him; He restores our relationship with Him.  This is PEACE.  Peace between God and man.  Accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior brings us peace…the peace prophesied about in the Old Testament….

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be on his shoulders, and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace……But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. ” (Isaiah 9:6, 53:5)

The birth of Jesus is worthy of celebration, because His arrival would bring reconciliation between God and man.  That message shepherds heard that night, the announcement of a prophecy of peace fulfilled, was truly good news for ALL people.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with who He is pleased.”

 (Luke 2:14)

As yet another holiday movie character finds their lives/hearts reconciled and their peace restored, I will remember to treasure the sweetest peace of all. Peace on earth, peace among men, peace between nations, communities, or households, will only be found when we first find peace with God. 

The Rev. Billy Graham would share this with those who sought peace with God….

“Lord, I know I am a sinner, and I ask Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite you to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name.”