The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

grinchIt’s wonderful and fun and smells like peppermint and cinnamon. You can’t help but be in a good mood! After all, it’s Christmas, right!?

This may seem pessimistic, but more than likely, there’s something hiding under that cheery holiday smile. Maybe it’s disappointment or pain. Spending Christmas without a loved one. It could be any number of things.

I want to talk today about one of the “Grinches” that can easily steal away our Christmas spirit and how you can keep him out of your life.

Expectations

Let’s be real. I have these crazy expectations around Christmas. It’s not about other people or gifts or even the weather (well, that’s not exactly true). But I have expectations for myself.

I’m going to spread joy and make people’s day. I’ll be on top of things. I’ll make it perfect.

Maybe you get that way too. And then there’s that sick feeling in your stomach when you miserably fail at perfection. I get it. And I hate it.

All those months of letting God speak to me and change me into someone who’s content and confident in Him. And then a few days into the season, BAM. I found myself crying in the car on the way home from a Christmas Eve service.

Why?

Because I’d failed myself. I had these stupid expectations that I could be someone who was good at everything. I could be the girl who seems invincible, who’s always smiling and who people love to be around.

Let me tell you a secret; I can’t be that person all the time. It’s exhausting.

But the fact that things don’t feel right, and there may be legitimate pain under the surface, doesn’t stop the power of God.

I love how the apostle Paul writes; “But He said to me  ‘My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly in my weakness, that the power of God may rest upon me.”

You see? When we have these expectations, we fail, they fail, the world fails. But aren’t we all a bunch of failures anyway? Without the grace of God, we’re out on the first strike.

But because of His grace, it doesn’t matter whether you have a Pinterest perfect Christmas, or you can’t get the tree to stand up right.

Because of His grace, we can show grace to others knowing that we’re all imperfect.

Because of His grace… Jesus.

Jesus. Everything about Christmas is about Him. Our lives; are they not about Him too? Our fears and failures; are they not accepted and forgiven by Him? Our hurt and heartache; can it not be healed by Him?

Jesus. Not only is He the “reason for the season”. He’s the key to our lock. He’s the answer to our questions. He’s the baby to our manger. He’s the star to our night. He’s the Christ to our Christmas.

I want to wish a very Merry Christmas to all my wonderful readers!

May the Lord bless you and your families this holiday season!

Love and blessings,

Moriah

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Have you had a “Grinch” come to steal your Christmas before? What expectations can you give up this year because of grace?

Leave a comment below with your thoughts!

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Something More

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2:19 pm

Twas the day before Christmas.

I was hiding behind my computer screen trying to come up with something brilliant. I had to get this post out before Christmas.

Writers block had been hindering my thought process for some time and the excitement of the holidays was really getting to me. I had to make something up. Like they say, “Fake it till you make it.”

I began thinking about how we hide behind this mask of the internet and social media. We create an image of who we want people to think we are. We try to look smarter, happier or stronger than we really are because we think people will respect us more. It’s a facade.

Facade – an outward appearance that is maintained to conceal a less pleasant or creditable reality.

I wondered, how can I relate this to Christmas?

Then it hit me. Jesus did exactly the opposite when He came to this earth.

Philippians 2:8 “And being found in appearance as a man He humbled Himeself…”

Our amazing, all-powerful, all-knowing God came down to us as the Christ child. “Illegitimately” born in a dirty barn in Bethlehem into a carpenters family. That’s pretty humbling.

He could’ve been born into a royal family and shown His power from day one. He could’ve ridden into Jeruselam in a golden chariot. He could’ve reigned as a king on the earth and forced everyone to worship Him.

But that’s not how God works. He chose a young teenage girl who had commited herself to doing His will to bring forth the little life that would save our souls. He chose a humble carpenter to help raise His one and only Son.

Luke 14:11 “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

In light of this, how are we to celebrate Christmas? Surely not by superficial festivity with a barrage of self-gratifying nonsense and somehow relating it all to the birth of Christ. Because honestly, Christmas must be something more.

I want to challenge all of us (myself included) to rethink our concept of Christmas. Let’s not put up a facade and just try to make it to the new year. Let’s be humble and celebrate the real things. Not some made up story, but THE story of how God saved the world using people like me and you.

Give Yourself A Compliment – Guest Post by Kristen Gutierrez

Today I have the honor of publishing a guest post from a sweet new friend of mine. Kristen has some amazing wisdom to share with you girls and I hope that you will all be touched in the same way I was by this message. Kristen, thanks so much for sharing. You’re a great writer and such an inspiration to me!

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Have you ever paid yourself a compliment?

Like when you’re at a department store and you see a blouse and think “That’s cute.  I’ll try it on.”  You try on this blouse and are surprised it looks nice on you.  Suddenly you are all smiles and say “I didn’t think it would look this good on! I look pretty!”  So you buy the blouse and return home in a good mood.

We always surprise ourselves like that.  We are surprised that we are prettier, smarter, more creative, than we really thought we were.  Why can’t we just have the confidence to know that we are pretty, smart, creative, good natured, etc.?  Why can’t we just pay ourselves a compliment.  We’re always trying act like someone else, except for the two people we should be acting like.  The first one is God, and the second is yourself.  We’re so busy focusing on everyone else’s lives, that we forget our own personal growth.

And as daughters of God it is important that we realize our worth in the Lord’s eyes. But that is not to say that the Lord’s daughters don’t go through growing pains.  In fact it can be worse than non-Christians.  And the hardest struggle of them all is self confidence and self worth.  And it is no secret that every young girl will go through this.  We will always go through a rough patch, but when we are young it is important that we learn from these hard times. I would like to share my own personal story about how I struggled with my appearance.

When I turned twelve I remember a family member asking me if I felt different.  I told them no, I felt the same as I had always felt, I felt like any kid.  If I was asked the same thing when I turned thirteen, I would have said the same as before,but I did not feel the same inside.  I was a little confused actually. Was I still a kid? I knew I was not an adult. I wasn’t an older teenager, so I couldn’t act like that.  But how should I act?

Not only are you growing inside and out, but different thoughts appear in your head.  Questions about the adult world.  About how life works.  And the question I asked the most, how do I find my place in life?  For me the I started to mature when I turned thirteen. But I didn’t know that I would have to cry a lot in the next two years.

I remember one day, and quite clearly too, the day I started to feel uneasy about my appearance.  I was thirteen and  I was getting dressed, and I stopped in front of my mirror to brush my hair, and a thought came into my head.  “Gosh, my face is so wide!” And that was the beginning of a lesson that I could only learn through tears, prayers, and through God.

Over the next year I practically obsessed over how I looked.  I was worried that I looked like a child, and not like a cool teenager.  I worried about my weight, my hair, my attitude, and mostly about the shape of my face.  I hated that my face was so wide. That I couldn’t be a few pounds lighter.  That I couldn’t have that easy going, chill attitude.

The thought that I wasn’t pretty enough, well behaved enough, or good enough, slowly crept into my mind.  I remember thinking thoughts like, “Ugh, why can’t my stomach be flatter.”  “I look horrible and I feel horrible.”  “I look so fat.” “I hate that my face is so wide!”  I would pull on my cheeks, suck them in. “Why can’t my face be thin like this?”   I even had the thought “Why did God even bother to create me?”

I was also wracked with guilt over feeling disatisfied with myself.  “Dear Lord,” I would say, “I know you made me this way, but I just don’t feel pretty. I really want to look pretty.  Please make me pretty.” What a prayer! To pray to the Lord that His creation was made wrong. That He made a mistake.  How hurtful I was!

And so, that was how things were for two years.  I didn’t like my appearance because I didn’t look like other girls.  I didn’t have that flat stomach, that perfect height, that perfect attitude, that winning smile like other girls.  And I wasn’t comparing myself to models on magazines, or celebrities on television shows.  I was comparing myself with girls I saw at the market, at the department store, anywhere.  Every girl looked prouder, acted better, was prettier, and was, in my mind, what I needed to act like.

It wasn’t until I was fifteen that I noticed something.  One day I was sitting on my bed, just relaxing and reading.  Some how the thoughts of my appearance came to me. Why wasn’t I skinny like other girls?  Why didn’t I have that flat stomach? Why didn’t I have a smaller chest?  Why didn’t I have thinner thighs?  Why did I have big feet? Why did I have a big nose?  Why couldn’t I be cool? Why? Why? Why?  All these thoughts were piling on each other, one after another.  I remember shaking my head and saying “Enough!”  I closed my eyes to try and block those thoughts. I told myself that this was enough, I did not want to feel like this anymore.  Something yelled at me in my head “You are beautiful!”  And I felt peace and quietness. Then the most amazing thought, “I want to look like Kristen. I don’t want to look like anyone else.” And suddenly I didn’t care about looking like anyone else except a girl named Kristen Gutierrez.  I wanted to look like a girl who is a dreamer.  Who dreams of becoming a doctor, of traveling to Paris, of a family.  Who loves doggies and chocolate!  I wanted to look like me!  I truly did feel comfortable about my appearance. Finally the tears were over.

Sometime later (I don’t remember how long) I remember this one day I was in front of the mirror fixing my hair, and an old thought crept into my mind, “My face is so wide!”  Oh no. But this time I asked myself,  “Well, why is your face wide? God made it so for a reason.”  And it came to me!  God knew that I would need a wider face than most girls because I would inheirit the big eyes in our family.  Big, dark brown, beautiful eyes.  And those eyes would need space! He knew my face needed to be wider because I would have a big smile.  He knew I needed a wider face, because a small face would surely get lost in all that curly fly away hair I would have! “God knew!” I was overjoyed at the thought that God knew everything about me.  I immediatly prayed.   I prayed to the Lord to forgive me for doubting Him, for thinking that He had make a mistake creating me. I thanked Him for finally opening my eyes to see how special I really was.

Sometimes I find it hard to believe that I overcame what many girls struggle with.  I do sometimes catch myself thinking things like “Wow, she is really pretty. And thin too.  I wish I-” But I immediatly catch myself and say “No, if you looked like her, then you wouldn’t be Kristen Renee, the girl God wanted you to be.”  I started to compare myself to other girls less and less. I am happy with the way I am. That is how I started to give myself compliments.  And not only compliments in the beauty department.  But everywhere.

Like, “That person was very rude.  But I’m proud of you that you were nice to them.”  or “That math problem was pretty tough! But hey, you did good! You did great!”

Perhaps giving yourself compliments sounds vain to others. But I’m not saying I’m better than other girls.  I just want the confidence that I need to be the true person I am.  I do tell myself “Yay! My hair looks great today!” And yes, it does make me feel better.  And on those days when nothing seems to go right, from bad hair to a bad mood, I still try to find something to be thankful and cheerful about.

I turned seventeen earlier this month, and looking back to my early teenage years, I wonder at how I could ever have felt so horrible.  Why did I feel like I was not worthy? Why did I feel ugly?  Sometimes I wonder if it was imaginary.  But it was not all in my head.  It was real.  And I over came that.  I struggled, I cried, I prayed, and in the end the reward was as sweet as honey.  And just the fact that I can share my story and that somebody could really take something away from it, well that is well worth the tears.

So after all this reading, what should you do? Well, here they are.

One. If you are girl who compares herself to other girls based on their looks, popularity, attitude, or even their spirituality. Please know that there is no need to be anyone else but YOU.  God made you the way that He knew best. He didn’t make you like every other girl because that is not who you are.  You are a unique individual.  He made you for a special reason.  And you must search for that reason and use it.  If you feel like you aren’t beautiful without makeup, certain clothing, or popularity.  Sit yourself down and ask yourself why.  Why do you feel the way you do?  What does God want me to learn? And pray that God opens your eyes to learn this lesson He has put before you.  Maybe right now you don’t feel pretty. Maybe you feel like the ugliest girl on the planet, and maybe you’ve cried because you wish so badly that you looked like anyone but yourself.  Please know, that right now you may not feel like it, but you are a beautiful person.  One day you will have that “Enough!” moment, and all insecurities will go away.  But you need to work at it and pray.  Remember, if you looked like anyone else, then you would not be YOU, and you are a unique and beautiful girl, and more importantly, a Daughter of Christ.  And always give yourself compliments!

Two.  If you have beaten the pressure that the world has put on young girls, that you need to be perfect.  That you need to wear what everyone else is wearing.  That you need to look like every girl out there.  That you should  “fit in”.  If you have beaten that, then I am so happy for you!  You have won!  But please, please tell someone that you have! Help someone. Tell them that you, a confident woman, and have no desire to be anyone else than yourself.  Tell your friends, cousins, anyone.  Beause you never know who could be struggling and who needs help. Shout your victory from the roof tops. And always give yourself a compliment!

Thank you for taking the time to read what I have wrote. It makes me happy that I can share my experience with everyone.  I have a great desire in me to help others, in any way, shape, or form. It really warms my heart that God has given me the chance to share my story.  Again I thank you for reading and I hope that you get some postive meaning out of my writing. And don’t forget to give yourself a compliment!

And thanks also to Moriah, for inviting me to write a guest post, God Bless you!

-Kristen Gutierrez.

A Word to Youth

When I read the bible, sometimes I feel like certain passages just don’t apply to me. You may feel the same. But when I open the scriptures to 1st and 2nd Timothy, I find verses that are written specifically to young people like me.

1st Timothy 4:12
Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.

2 Timothy 2:22
Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

I love both of these verses because they are so straight forward. Paul says to live boldly for God. Don’t let people look down on you because you’re young. Then he pretty much gives us a list of virtues and attitudes that we should have as children of God and ambassadors for Him to the world.

In our speech and conduct we should show:

  • Love – The unconditional love and mercy of Christ
  • Righteousness – Doing what’s right no matter what
  • Faith – Believing what we do not see
  • Purity – Living lives set apart for Christ
  • Peace – Pursuing harmony and reconciliation

In these things we can really show Christ in our lives because we are different from the world. While our peers are falling for youthful lusts, we flee from those things and pursue Christ. We put our old desires behind and let God change our desires and dreams to become something beautiful that will glorify Him.

Don’t be discouraged by the direction the world is taking. It’s time to take a stand. As part of a new generation, it should be our goal to win back this world for Christ and that starts with you and me. That starts with how we live and the example that we show to the waiting world. Will we blend in with the crowd or stand out, set apart for the gospel of Christ and for truth?

Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.” Daniel 12:3

Blessings,
Moriah

 

The Challenge

Looking out my window on the wooded scene below, bright green buds are just popping out of the bushes and trees and the haze is starting to lift on the horizon.

Morning has always been my favorite, before the cares of life come and sweep me away.

There’s a sort of excitement in watching the night become the day, and a peace in knowing that the God who created this beauty around me is going to help me get through another 24 hours of life.

As I close the bible on my beside table and head downstairs to start breakfast I remember the conversation my mother and I had last night about sacrifice.

I hear her voice in my head reminding me that love is giving up what we want to serve someone else.

I admit that I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning. But after lying there, uncomfortably sensing the argument between my warm covers and the light coming in my window, I knew that I must.

Everyday is a challenge, a decision. Will I serve God or self? Will I do what I want, or do what He made me for?

Galatians 5:13 says “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

We embrace the liberty that we have in Christ but do we use it for Him?

I like the verse in 2 Corinthians 5:15 that says, “He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”

Live for Him!

Blessings,
Moriah

Hijack

I sometimes wonder, what can I do for God?

I’m not a great missionary.

I’m not someone who has a huge following and can influence people in that way.

I’m not someone who can “change the world”.

But Jesus is.

Yes, Jesus died on the cross two thousand years ago. But that’s not it.

What sets Christianity apart from other religions is that our God is alive, and since He is alive, He’s active.

I’ve realized that there’s only one thing stopping the gospel from going all around the world and penetrating every soul.

That one thing is that we haven’t let God hijack our lives. We have to let Him take control.

That means waking up in the morning and saying “God, what do You want me to do today?”

Not just being open to His leading, but being dependent on it.

When you let God hijack your life, He will do great things through you.

The world will be changed when we allow God to completely take over.

So, what’s holding you back? Does hijack sound a little risky? Don’t want to be considered a Jesus freak?

You know, if we could travel back in time and talk to the Christians in the first century who saw their fellow Christians torn apart by lions, maybe we’d get a better understanding of what it means to be a follower of Christ.

The propagation of the gospel will always bring hardship for the people of God. But the Lord will always give strength and ultimately victory to those soldiers who stand strong and fight His battles with Him as their King and Commander.

1st Corinthians 15:58  “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Blessings,
Moriah

God’s Will 4 U

1st Thessalonians 5: 16-18 says “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” This has always been one of my favorite scriptures because it has so much practical help for everyday problems packed into three tiny verses. I found some quotes about these different topics that you might enjoy.

{Rejoice Always}

In his sermon in 1991 titled “Rejoice Always”, John MacArthur said this “The joyful Christian thinks more of his Lord than he does his personal difficulties. The joyful Christian thinks more of his spiritual riches in Christ than his poverty on earth. The joyful Christian thinks more of his glorious eternal future than his present pain. And when you live like that, the command “rejoice always” becomes possible…not only possible, desirable.”

{Pray Without Ceasing}

On the topic of the power of prayer Charles Spurgeon wrote “All hell is vanquished when the believer bows his knee in importunate supplication…we cannot all be leaders, but we can all be pleaders; we cannot all be mighty in rhetoric, but we can all be prevalent in prayer…Prayer links us with the Eternal, the Omnipotent, the Infinite, and hence it is our chief resort. . . Be sure that you are with God, and then you may be sure that God is with you.”

{In Everything Give Thanks}

In John Gill’s commentary of this scripture he says “thanks should be given to God in every circumstance of life; in adversity, as Job did; when not in so comfortable and agreeable a frame of soul as to be wished for, since it might be worse, …even under the temptations of Satan, since they might be greater and heavier, and since the grace of God is sufficient to bear up under them, and deliver out of them, and since there is such a sympathizing high priest and Savior; and in afflictions of every kind, since they are all for good, temporal, or spiritual, or eternal.”

If you’ve ever wondered what God’s will is for your life I think you have a clue now. I hope that these words have uplifted and encouraged you to be more joyful, prayerful and thankful. 

Blessings,
Moriah