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Month: December 2015

When You’re Sad at Christmas Time

Feeling Sad at Christmas Time

 

When You’re Sad at Christmas Time 

Merry Christmas, dear friend! How are you? How are you really? I want to know. So often we greet each other, and the answer is supposed to be: “I’m fine,” or “Great!” We don’t want to share more, and the other person most likely does not wish to hear how we truly are. We’re all busy and in a hurry.

Well, I’m going to break the ice, and share what I’ve been feeling and how I’m learning to cope with those feelings.

A couple of weeks ago I was feeling sad and a little downhearted. When you are single, no husband or children, Christmas can be a time of reflection and questioning. Was I wrong to focus on ministry instead of marriage? I think about this, but I come back to the truth: I have had a very adventurous and fulfilling life as a single missionary in Japan and then as a single woman living here in the States. I am content in the Lord, but sometimes when I’m feeling lonely, I wonder what if…

Also, my parents are gone as well as an aunt and uncle and both of their sons, my two cousins. Our families enjoyed celebrating the holidays together. Christmas is just not the same with these loved ones not here anymore.

Maybe you can relate to what I’m saying, or you might have other reasons for feeling melancholy this Christmas season.

If you have small children, you may be very excited about Christmas and all the activities. What is more fun than to see your child play an angel or Mary or Joseph in the church Christmas program! Maybe this doesn’t apply to you personally. You may have a friend who is feeling sad, though.

One short sentence with three different meanings has helped me cope with my feelings:

1. You’re not alone. Others are feeling the same way. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and share how you’re feeling.

A co-worker and I were talking. How we both were feeling came up in the conversation. She was also feeling sad. Then I heard others were feeling the same way. I knew in my head that other people would be sad during the holidays, but I was still feeling alone. Then talking with others helped. I had to come out of isolation and speak my feelings. I’m not alone. You’re not alone either. Share with someone how you’re feeling.

2. You’re not alone. Though many loved ones aren’t here, look at the ones who are with you. Love on them. Invest time and energy in their lives.

I’m concentrating now on the family and friends that are here. I have a sister and cousin nearby and two nieces that I love dearly. And friends. And I am a CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocate) for a foster child. I am blessed to know her and support her.

3. You’re not alone. Jesus, our “Immanuel” (“God with us”), is here. Seek comfort in Him and not in the trappings of Christmas—spending money, gift giving, and all the food. Not saying, don’t enjoy the gifts and food. What I’m saying is, don’t let them distract you from Jesus and don’t use them as distractions from your pain.

As I focus on Jesus, worshipping Him, adoring and loving Him, I sense His comforting presence. Tears may not be far away and easily spill over at a memory or at a scene on TV that touches my heart. I am thankful for being able to grieve and to have the comfort of the Lord.

Dear friend, we are not alone! May the glory of Jesus’ birth fill your heart with joy and wonder. I love and appreciate you! Thank you for joining this Grace Breakthroughs Journey. 2016 is going to be an adventure!

 

Please leave a comment about how you are feeling and how you cope at Christmas. Your words may be the encouragement someone else needs.

 

Photo credit: cocoparisienne/pixabay.com

A Solution for My 5 Goal-Setting Mistakes

A Solution for My Goal-Setting Mistakes

A Solution for My 5 Goal-Setting Mistakes

I set goals for 2015 that I didn’t accomplish. In preparing for 2016, I’m looking back to see what didn’t work in order to learn from my mistakes. The same patterns have been repeated year after year. I have taken a deeper look to see what is bringing me to a standstill in some areas of my life. I need a Grace Breakthrough for 2016!

At the end of this post, I’m going to introduce you to a great solution for goal-setting mistakes. You’ll love it!

I’m not good at setting goals and then following through. So I miss out on accomplishing some really good things, things I really want to do. Like living a healthy lifestyle. I want 2016 to be better than 2015.

Here are my 5 goal-setting mistakes:

Mistake #1. Not first getting clear on my God-given desires, dreams, and vision

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4, ESV) If I’m finding my joy in the Lord, then my heart’s true desires will be fulfilled. What are those desires? The Lord has given us a new heart that longs for what He desires. Invite the Lord into the process and look deeper. What do I really want?

Set goals that come out of your passionate heart union with the Lord. 

That is where true motivation comes from.

Mistake #2. Feeling as though accomplishing my goals depends solely on my willpower and discipline, and then giving up when I don’t think I can do it.

“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2; 12-13, ESV).

He works and I work. I live in Him and He lives in me.

Imagine the possibilities when you’re living by faith in union with Jesus. Imagine what grace will do!

“Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning. Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action. Grace, you know, does not just have to do with forgiveness of sins alone.”

― Dallas Willard, The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus’s Essential Teachings on Discipleship

Living by grace doesn’t mean we don’t make great efforts to achieve goals. We are just not trying to earn acceptance with God. We already have it!

Grace empowers us to accomplish God’s will.

Mistake #3 Forgetting Killing my goals so I don’t take the necessary steps to reach them

I wrote out some goals for 2015. I put them away, out of sight. When I did look at them, the intention was not to make a plan and do them. Sounds strange, right? My first thought was that I was forgetting the goals and should have looked at them every day to focus on them and to accomplish them.

But as I was writing this, the Lord reminded me of my bug collection. I had to look deeper.

WARNING: If you are squeamish and faint of heart, scroll quickly down to mistake #4.

I made an insect collection for a science project in junior high school. Creepy big black beetle bugs were included. My “dead” bugs were housed in a cigar box after I killed them with a chemical in a test tube. A pin pierced their bodies and held them in place. The problem was some of the bigger bugs, the black ugly beetles, revived and tried to walk around with the pin still piercing their bodies.

I treated my goals like that creepy insect collection. But my goals were good. They were not ugly, creepy sinful things. But I killed them. Those desires would revive and I’d have to knock them out again. Why would I treat my goals like that? Why would I sabotage myself? Why would I repeatedly stop myself from doing the good that I wanted to do?

Bug Collection

Photo credit: irin-k/shutterstock.com

Overwhelm, perfectionism, fear of failure, fear of success, feelings of unworthiness…

Timothy Keller wrote: “Unless you believe the gospel, everything you do, will be driven by pride or fear.”

Driven by pride or fear, I squash my God-given desires and goals.

Believing the gospel of grace, I can move forward to achieve those goals. I need daily reminders of the amazing grace of God. Maybe  the issue is not that I forget my goals or kill them, but the real problem is that I forget the wonder of the gospel of grace.

Mistake #4. Not having someone check in with me to see if I’m following through

Now, I do not want someone nagging me or pushing me. However, I do need loving encouragement that will remind me who I am and what I really want to do.

We cannot live an isolated Christian life. We need the encouragement of one another.

Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24, ESV).

Let’s encourage one another so that we don’t waste our time and our lives. You and I have a purpose. Our lives matter.

Mistake #5. Drifting and living impulsively rather than living with confidence and assurance in God’s will and Word

My default is living without a plan and winging it.

If the Apostle Paul knew me, he’d be praying Colossians 4:12 for me: “That I would stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.”

I make a decision and then doubt myself. Am I really doing what God wants me to do? I analyze myself into the ground! Then I come back to the Word and realize that…yes! I’m going in the right direction. I cause myself unnecessary misery by not immediately returning to the Word when I face doubts.

Can you relate to any of these? Let me know about your experience with goal-setting. You can leave a comment or email me at christine@gracebreakthroughs.com

And now…Let me introduce you to a wonderful solution. My friend and mentor, Arabah Joy, who works incognito as a missionary in Asia, created a resource that is the perfect solution to anyone’s goal-setting mishaps. You’re gonna love this. I am so excited to share her course with you. She will take you through a process to set and achieve the right goals that will transform your life.

 

Grace Goals is a revolutionary approach for Christians to set and achieve godly goals. Forget the fleshly tactics and self-help! This approach is grounded in scripture and shows you how to work in conjunction with the Spirit who is working within you to do His good pleasure. By author and missionary Arabah Joy.

Grace Goals”—I love it! I have already read the entire book and am working through the assignments. This is so helpful. I’m trusting my Abba Father that 2016 will be even better than this year.

You can purchase this resource for $15 through my affiliate link here: Grace Goals Course

(Because I’m recommending “Grace Goals,” I’ll receive a commission that does not affect your price.)

Are there any bonuses?

Yes! Three Bonuses:

1. You’ll be invited to join the Grace Goals Facebook Group for your encouragement. Arabah Joy herself pops in and answers questions and offers encouragement.

2. You’ll receive another resource, “Year End Review,” that will guide you to review the year and to get ready for 2016.

3. If you get stuck or just want some feedback, you can talk with me on a 30-minute telephone call. I love this bonus because I will get to talk with you!

To receive the “Year End Review” and the telephone call with me, just email me your purchase receipt with your email and telephone number. Here’s my email:

christine email image

Learn more about “Grace Goals” from Arabah Joy herself. Click on the image below:

Grace Goals Course

Top Photo Credit: Soccer Player Shooting a Goal, Photocreo/Canva.com