Personal Blog by Rhonda Crowdis Hardisty

Archive for December, 2012

The Heart of Christmas: Snow!

A portion of my family Christmas morning 2009

A portion of my family Christmas morning 2009

Living in Texas, it’s quite unusual to experience a white Christmas. I cannot remember every having snow on Christmas Day as a child. In fact, the first year I remember this phenomenon in our area was December of 2009. As we headed to my Dad’s on Christmas Eve that year a blizzard ensued. A real life blizzard I tell you! The roads covered in snow, the crisp air, filled with flakes like nothing I had ever seen before. It was more white and cold than I could have imagined.

It was so thick that my daughter who was following directly behind me missed the exit just as I was taking it. This was my middle daughter who gets a little upset when lost. So, we immediately called and advised her to take the next exit and wait for us. We also took the next exit, headed back to the highway we had just left and were on a mission to find her. It was a slow process and my heart was pounding as my mind raced with worry for how upset she must be.

We caught up to her at a gas station, calmed her, filled her car with gas, and tried to start it. Unfortunately, her battery was weak and her lights had been left on since she stopped. In this blizzard of all blizzards, I got the jumper cables out of the trunk, connected them to both cars, and waited for what seemed like an hour (even though it was only about 5 minutes) for her battery to charge. It was so cold and the snow blowing so hard I had to wrap my scarf around my face. I remind you, this is Texas. We rarely have snow here! We certainly do not have blizzards.

We survived and made it to my Dad’s to open gifts, and then home safely. The next morning Christmas breakfast was at my house for the first time. We had more family and more fun that morning than any Christmas I can remember. My yard filled with nieces, nephews, cousins and snowmen. My living room and kitchen filled with friends, family, and food. Everyone sharing and bonding right there in my home. At that point, the snow was beautiful and a very welcome sight. The wonder, white and warmth of it all…yes, I said warmth. The snow with all its fluff and glimmer had a warmth about it that filled the hearts of us all with love for one another on a once in a lifetime Christmas morning that was white and wonderful. This is what I believe to be the real meaning of Christmas; family gathered together to celebrate the birth of Christ in a loving and meaningful fashion.

Advertisements

The Heart of Christmas: Decorations

410CNIKqhoLWhen I was little we had a Christmas tree that I remember as being white, but it’s also possible that it was silver. We had a color wheel that sat near the tree and rotated lights on it. We thought it was the coolest thing, and loved to sit and watch it in the living room in the evenings while listening to Christmas records on the stereo. It’s my most vivid memory of Christmas decorations from my childhood. I do not remember if we ever had lights on house or in the yard. It’s just not something that impressed me as a child, so maybe that means we did not have any. I’m not sure.

In more recent years my mother has done away with the Christmas tree, opting for a large nativity in its place. In her home, Christmas is about the birth of Christ; it’s His birthday celebration, not a celebration of Santa and all of his reindeer. We usually spend Christmas morning at her house eating home-cooked breakfast with family and exchanging gifts that represent the gift that God gave us when Christ was born. Besides the nativity, there are few Christmas decorations other than cards and family photo’s adorning the living room and kitchen area’s.

From the time my girls were young until recently, my home was loaded with snowman decor throughout. I have collected snowmen for years and loved to get them out and put them on display. In recent years we have put up lights and filled the yard with candy canes or white deer. Last year my husband asked why people put out deer for Christmas. I told him that it reminds me of the verse in the Bible talking about deer panting after water the same way our souls long for God. However, for a lot of people I believe it has to do with deer, more specifically reindeer, being winter and possibly holiday animals that would roam during the holiday season. Either way, they are pretty and we have enough of them to fill the yard and light it up!

This year we went a little more simple in our decorating. White lights on the bushes, red and white on the house and an inflatable nativity in the yard. We wanted our decorations to signify what Christmas is really about; God’s gift.  Christ our savior  is the real reason we celebrate Christmas and our decorations should show others what we believe. My brother used to have a large lighted sign in his yard that said “Jesus is the Reason!” Some day I would like to have a similar sign in my yard to proclaim to all who drive by that I believe in the deity of Christ and that he is the real reason for the Christmas season.

What do your decorations say about you and what you believe about Christmas. What do they say about your relationship with Christ? What do you want them to say?

The Heart of Christmas: Gifts!

giftsI remember when I was about 7 and the only thing I cared about receiving from Santa was a Benji dog, stuffed of course. It did not matter to me if I had a bike or a Barbie. All I wanted was that stuffed dog! I was thrilled waking up on Christmas morning and finding not only that dog, but a bike and a big teddy bear I had seen at JC Penney in addition to other things I cannot even remember at this point. My parents went all out to make our Christmas gifts everything that we ever wanted and more.

As an adult, my Dad used to give us $600 per family each Christmas to purchase gifts for ourselves and our children. Our instructions were to wrap them and return with them on Christmas Eve for opening. With just 4 of us in my family at that time, I was able to buy a lot of Barbie’s and Barbie houses for three girls with $450.00. It gave me the feeling of giving my girls everything they wanted for Christmas even though I could not afford many gifts myself. It also gave my girls a Santa type experience though I never perpetuated that myth with them. I was concerned that they would be disappointed if they expected great things from Santa which I could not deliver. However, on Christmas morning they awoke to all of their toys assembled and ready to use because I had been up all night making it happen. It was my gift to them and as far as they knew, they had received more gifts while they were sleeping.

To this day, I still fill a stocking for each of my children that they usually open on Christmas morning, but more recently they have talked me in to filling them on Christmas Eve since we leave so early on Christmas morning to have breakfast at my mother’s house with my siblings and their families. They also open one gift from me on Christmas Eve, typically a pair of pajama’s they will sleep in and wear to my mothers in the morning. As simple as it is, they look forward to this gift every year. These are small tokens of my love for them, but the thing that makes it great is the joy that they express and can also be seen on their faces as they open them. It makes Christmas so special for me! There is little more important to me than for them to be happy and love to each other.

All of these gifts are symbols of the one true gift we received on the first Christmas in the form of a baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger: Jesus Christ. He is the greatest gift ever given to humanity; more important than any stuffed dog or Barbie my children or I ever received. Christmas is about receiving the love of Christ, a gift from God to us. It’s not about presents and material things. It’s also about giving His love to others. This year as you spend time with family and friends take time to share with them the gift of eternal life. Christ is the reason for this season and every other season of the year.

The Heart of Christmas: Lights

lightI will never forget one Christmas when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter and taking care of my 22 month old niece, Amber. She was very sick with the flu, but as we drove around our neighborhood she would point, and in her weak little voice say, “light”. It was the highlight of her existence at that moment when she saw Christmas lights on houses. Watching them blink, flicker and twinkle brought so much joy to her little heart, and to mine as well when I saw her reaction to them.

I also remember when I was a kid, even a teenager, really enjoying the sights and sounds of the neighborhoods where every house was lit and many had music to go with the show. There is just something about Christmas lights that really stir our hearts and bring joy and awestruck wonder to each of us.

Every year we try to take the kids to see Christmas lights somewhere, and my husband even loves to drive through the surrounding neighborhoods, just the two of us, and look at the lights. He is like a kid when it comes to seeing the more elaborate displays. He wants to keep going back past those homes every time he is in the area.

What many may not realize is that these lights represent Christ and the light that we are to be to the world. Matthew 5 says:

“14Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.15Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Do you remember singing This Little Light of Mine in Sunday school as a child? Hide it under a bush..oh no! I’m gonna let it shine! Won’t let Satan blow it out! I’m gonna let it shine. This is the kind of excitement His light should continue to bring to those of use who are called by His name according to His purpose. We are to be a reflection of Him carrying His light to the dark world that they too might see through the darkness. That dark world is not in a third world country. It’s in our neighborhood, in our family, and even in our own homes.

How much light are you sharing with your friends and families? Do you only do it during the Christmas season or do you show your light all year? Why? What would it take for you to share your light more often and to more people?

Related articles

The Heart of Christmas: Anticipation

holiday_anticipation-6311Families plan to gather on the fourth Thursday in November to give thanks for all they have, then begin the process of setting up their homes, stores, and offices with decorations representing the season of giving. It is something that many look forward to all year.

Children make their lists and wait anxiously to give them to Santa. They know that this will lead to a visit from the jolly man himself in a sleigh full of toys pulled by eight magic reindeer. They spend every waking moment and some sleepless nights wondering what they will receive and expecting with great joy for the day to arrive.

Businesses that may be in the red prepare every year for the season known as the golden quarter where, boosted significantly by Black Friday sales, they have the potential to earn more money in three short months than they have earned all year. With the importance of this season many plan their entire year around it.

We all anticipate the arrival of the Christmas season whether it be for family time, giving, receiving, or earning.

This expectancy is nothing in comparison to what the shepherds and wise men must have felt while following natures clues to the birth of the King of Kings and Lord of Lord. Can you imagine what it would be like to know you are going to meet a very famous person for the first time or be part of an event where you might come in contact with someone you admire or look up to as a role model. Better yet, can you imagine meeting our creator and savior! It would be the most exciting day of our lives.

As we see this excitement in the eyes of our children and others we love this season, we see how it relates to the first coming which was the first Christmas, but we should also consider it in relation to His second arrival. The Bible says that no one knows the day or the time. So, we should live each day for Christ as if it is the day of His return. Today, tomorrow or next year could be it. We should each be filled with such joy and thought for preparation as it draws near. If we are to be ready for that day it should be the reason we live each and every moment from now until then.

Are we prayerfully anticipating the second coming? Are we preparing for it in the way that we prepare for Christmas? Are we cleaning our lives for Him with the same intensity that we might clean our homes for holiday parties or visits from family and friends? Are we giving Christ the importance in our lives and in our families that we give Christmas? How can we begin to change our focus if we are not currently anticipating His return with reverence and intensity? Think about it.

Heart Truth

Truthpic(1)Have you ever felt like you were not good enough for some of the people in your life? Like nothing you did ever measured up? Do you have family or friends who make you feel like you are under-dressed, over-weight, and under-employed to be accepted by them? Do they do things for the family or in your place of work that you only wish you could do?

They take everyone’s kids to the zoo every year, or throw the best parties, or bring the most expensive or coolest gifts to your children’s birthdays; things for which you feel you can never repay them or measure up. You feel like your best is not good enough. You believe you are talked about behind your back and whispered about in private conversations; they look at you and laugh.

These may be people who you believe do everything to get on your last nerve. These are people who seem to go out of their way to steal your thunder, if you have an iPhone, they have an iPhone 2. If you live in an apartment, they live in a house. If your hair is long, they have the cutest short cut; if you have a short hair cut, they have the most beautiful long hair. If you teach Sunday school, they teach Sunday school for the homeless.

I too have felt this way. In fact, most of my childhood I felt as is I was not good enough for a lot of my family, especially after my parents divorce. I had family who attended my cousins sporting events, but not mine. I had a parents who spent more time with my siblings than with me. I did not have grandparents with whom I could go spend long weekends. I had cousins who knew my other cousins better than they knew me.

I also felt this way throughout my school years. Regardless of how nice my clothes were or how many friends I had, there was always someone who seemed to have everything that I did not have. They had parents who stayed home, but mine worked. They had cute hair cuts, while I had long, stringy hair. They had nice cars while I drove an older model. They were not afraid to speak up for themselves and others, while I was afraid of my own shadow. They could read better, run faster, and do back handsprings across the playground.

The truth is that these feelings and beliefs are just that; our feelings and our beliefs. They are based on our own perception, not reality.

The truth is most likely your family loves you and would do anything for you, but don’t always know what they can do or should do to make you happy. When they try to help with your children or give me something, you assume they are feeling sorry for you or trying to prove they are better.

The truth is that most of us put on our one nice set of clothing and spend extra time on our hair when we are going to be around people who we want to impress; people who we think we need to prove ourselves to. It’s not that they thought they were better, they were trying to live up to our standard, not put us down.

The truth is they dislike their job as much as we do, but would never let us know they were not happy.

The truth is they are too self conscious to eat another helping of mashed potatoes at a family gathering, and are jealous that you are confident enough in yourself to eat what you want.

The truth is most of the time when we think someone is talking about us, we are the farthest thing from their mind. They just happen to glance our way at the moment they make a face because of  Aunt Sally‘s awful dessert they just bit into.

The truth is they have gifts in certain areas where we do not. Therefore, we are self-conscious of our lack in that area. One the other hand, we have our own gifting’s and are not aware that we may make others self-conscious as well.

The truth is the grass is always greener on the other side and we never really know what someone else is going through and what feelings and beliefs they too are fighting on a daily basis.

The truth is God has not given us a spirit of fear and inadequacy. He has given us a spirit of power, love and a sound mind.

These truths have set my heart free from feelings of inadequacy and I pray they will help set you free as well.

Swimming Together

Navigating the Waters of Marriage, Mommying and Ministry

chartchums

Smarter Charts from Marjorie Martinelli & Kristine Mraz

Living In The Puzzle

Everyday experiences with my son who has Autism

The Abuse Expose' with Secret Angel

A blog reaching out to victims of abuse and others in need, providing insight about abuse, hope for the future, and guidance to see THE LIGHT that lead Secret Angel out of the darkness of her own abusive situation and helped her to not only survive but to overcome.

cynthianurss

random life wonderment

Judith Heaney, writer

reflecting life in words

Abby Norman

Former Teacher. Future Preacher. Frequently Opinionated

entertainmentmom

A topnotch WordPress.com site

MyWindow2theWorld

Take a look with me...

Finding our way home

moving forward, but never alone

Prego and the Loon

Pregnant and Dealing With Domestic Violence

Ecuador Living Magazine

Lifestyle. Opportunity. Adventure.

Las Palmas Ecuador

Discover Ocean Living in South America!!

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

caroline holzberger

Keepin' it real about motherhood, Jesus, life, and everything in between.

Chelbreymariel's Blog

A great WordPress.com site

Latitude 1

Two American Expats (to be) Preparing for Life in Ecuador

%d bloggers like this: