Wednesday, April 25, 2018

25 Things I've Learned in 25 Years

       


         2 weeks ago, I turned 26 and with it came a bit of excitement and a wave of panic. Panic about how much closer to 30 I am than I was 3 weeks ago. Panic about the future and my goals. Panic over the fact that I really am a "real" adult and yet, I still don't feel like one half the time. I thought the laughter and frustration about "adulting" ended at 22 yet I still can't seem to get out of it. Maybe it never really goes away. Who knows? I'll come back to you when I'm 30 :). Anywho, over the years I've complied a list of things I've learned. I decided there's no better way to celebrate making it past 25 than share a list of......(drumroll please...) "the top 25 things I've learned in life!"*pop the champagne* Obviously, a lot can happen in 25 years but I figured I'd spare you from reading about how I learned to count and tie my shoes and just stick to sharing the more inspring things I've learned over the years. 
     1.) Keep short accounts
   I have found that when I hold onto something someone said or did that hurt me, it only makes me more miserable and puts a strain on the other person’s and I’s relationship. I have learned that it is better to forgive and let go of things that were said or done. If a conversation needs to be had with the other person, have a conversation. Get things out in the open. It feels awkward at first but in the end, I promise you it’s worth it most of the time.
     2.) Show kindness in small ways
   Whether it’s a little note or text to encourage a friend or paying it forward at a drive-thru; it’s good to share kindness with others. You never know how a kind word or action could impact someone.
     3.) Forgiveness is possible
   No matter what you have done or someone has done to you, forgiveness is possible. I know that there are things that you have done that you feel like couldn’t possibly be forgiven. You can be forgiven though because Jesus has already paid the price for your sins. The forgiveness you receive through Jesus can give you the freedom and strength to forgive others for how they have wronged you.
(John 3:16, Colossians 1:13-14, Ephesians 1:17, Ephesians 4:32)
     4.) Exercise is crucial
    I find that when I am not making going for a jog, working out or going to the gym on a regular basis a priority, I feel less like myself. I have less energy or end up bottling up stress. I always feel better after a workout and am more ready to tackle the days ahead.
     5.)Be open to new foods and experiences
    Having a barbeque in the Domincan Republic in an open field that the locals call "tarantuala field" or eating some sort of rice dish with your hands while in Zimbabwe may not appeal to you; but give it a try. It’s good to try new foods when you are in different places and embrace the experiences before you (even if it means being aware of where you put your feet).
      6.) Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone
    Whether it’s joining that new kickboxing class at your local gym or trying a restaurant you’ve never tried before instead of the usual, it’s good to step out of your comfort zone. I have found taking on various leadership roles to be way out of my comfort zone but I have learned a lot through these roles and have grown in some of my leadership skills.
      7.) It’s ok to be vulnerable
      I think it’s easy to think that we all need to be strong and pretend like everything is okay all the time. We put on these masks that we don’t need anyone. Even a simple “I’m alright” when someone asks how you are if you’re really not doing well is fine. You don’t have to bare your soul to everyone who asks you how you are.  You shouldn’t lie though if you’re really not doing great. Someone may ask what’s wrong or they will leave it alone. That’s ok. What matters is that you were honest.
      8.) Find friends you can trust
    It’s important though to find someone that you trust though to open up to.  Someone you can trust and can open up to about stuff that’s bothering you or upsetting you. I know that I am thankful to have close friends that I can talk to about things. I often find that when one of us is vulnerable about something then that leads the other person to open up and we can  look at each other and say,  “yea me too.” We grow closer to each other and understand each other better. We know how we can better encourage or support one another.
9. ) God is closer than you know and He truly cares
    I’m not sure how to explain this one. I have been learning this one for a few years now. It is something that I struggle to remember but I have be reminded of it over and over again through scriptures, through speakers, through others, through circumstances and conversations and so many other random things. He really is near and He really does care. That’s all I can say.
     10.) Prayer is important and powerful
    I’ve never seen the power of prayer until I went into full-time ministry and saw and heard God answer prayers in such visible ways in different people’s lives. In my own life, I have learned to open my eyes to the small prayers in my life that God answers and have learned to look back and see that God is answering my prayers more than I realize. I just need to open my eyes more and give Him credit.  I also have learned that it’s important to pray even when you don’t see the prayers being answered. You never know when He will answer them or why He chose not to. It’s a tough topic to really get into but I’ll say this, don’t give up. Don’t stop praying because prayer can draw you closer to God. I can speak and say from personal experience that it’s worth it. Even though I don’t always see prayers being answered I feel more at peace when I pray and give things over to God.
     11.) Go outside and set aside time to enjoy nature
    The trees, the grass, the sun, the clouds, all of it is so beautiful! Go to your local park. Go to the beach and gaze at the sea. Go on a hike and look out over the mountains.  I always feel so refreshed when I find spaces outside on a nice day to reflect and write or read.
     12.) Don’t be afraid to take risks
      I feel like this one should come with a warning. Don’t decide to cross the street and think you can beat that car coming towards you. Don’t decide to drive on a broken bridge or climb something really high and unstable. Take risks that don’t involve physical danger. If you’re making new friends, don’t be afraid to ask them to hang out or maybe you are thinking about starting an etsy shop to sell some art but you’re unsure of how successful it will be. Go for it. You’ll never know how something will turn out unless you ask or go for it.
     13.) Walk in step with the Spirit
      Growing up, I always heard of the Holy Spirit as something that Christians receive when they trust in Jesus and then that’s that. I have learned so much lately though that there is power in the Spirit. The Spirit is working in us, teaching us how to pray (Romans 8:26-27), giving us new life (2 Cor. 3:6), and gives us freedom (2 Cor 3:17)
     14.) Look for opportunities to bless strangers
  Pay it forward at your local Starbucks or Dunkin Drive-Thru. It’s just a nice thing to do and I promise you it will make your day. 
     15.) Don’t sell yourself short
Every single person in the world has something to offer. We all have gifts and talents. They may not all look the same but all our talents are important. You have something to give. You have a kind word that someone needs or maybe they need your sense of humor or your guidance on finances. Whatever it is, it’s important. You’re needed and you matter.
     16.) Build space in your life to recharge and refresh
As an introvert, this is a big one for me. I find that I need at least one evening in my home. Sometimes 2 depending on how busy my week is. I lose energy when I spend time with people. I gain energy though when I step away from people for a little bit and have time to think and reflect.  I have found that it is important for me to build time in my week for myself so that I can enjoy and support those around me better.
     17.) Give grace to yourself and those around you
I’m going back to the Gospel here but it applies to life too. Give grace. No one is perfect. You or someone else is going to say something stupid or unintentionally hurt someone or yourself or forget something. It’s just bound to happen. I find that when I learn to give myself grace in things then I am able to give others more grace and not place high unfair expectations on others. If you have hurt someone with something you said and they tell you, you hurt them. Apologize then move on.
    18.) Be creative with your wardrobe
This one is a bit more light-hearted of the lessons I’ve learned. I’ve always enjoyed adding random pieces of jewelry to simple outfits. It’s fun to try bolder accessories that are different than something you normally would wear or wear one of those Blair Waldorf-esque headbands even when they’re no longer in style. Because, why not?
     19.)Try new looks
Whether it’s buying a top in a brighter color than you would normally go for or dyeing your hair or getting it cut differently. It’s fun to try new things. It’s a nice simple way to make a change in your life when you don’t want to switch careers or remodel your house.
     20.) Keep a list of gratitude
I am a huge fan of Ann Voskamp and her book “One Thousand Gifts”. After I read her book, I was inspired to keep my own list of gratitude on a daily basis. When I stop to write down something I’m thankful for it helps me to be more content with my life rather than look at all the things I want but don’t have. Living a life with more gratitude ends up filling me with more peace and joy.
     21.) Don’t hold back from telling others what they mean to you
  It’s good to share with others what they mean to you. If you’re thankful for someone, tell them. If you have a good friend that you care for, send them a text to remind them that they are loved.
        22.)Recognize your daily need for Jesus
I need Jesus every dang day. Personally, I cannot be a decent person without Jesus. That’s just the truth. Only Jesus can make us more brave, kind and holy.
         23.) Say “yes”
   Unless you have a problem of saying “yes” to everything, then learn to cut back. If you find yourself in a time of life though where you have space to say “yes” to hanging out with people, “yes” for volunteering for something a friend told you about, “yes” to running that 5k your friend mentioned then say, “yes”. It’s good to be open to new opportunities.
       24.)Let faith drive your decisions instead of fear
  I can sometimes let fear decide my decisions rather than faith. I like to play it safe and trust in what I can see and know rather than the unknown things or the things out of my comfort zone. My decision to move to Ireland was so hard to make. I liked my life at home. I had family and friends and a job I loved but through various conversations and God making things clear in this weird way that He occasionally does, I knew I had to move to Ireland even though it would be really hard. I had to put aside my fears and trust that even though moving so far away would be scary, I would be okay. It’s been a roller coaster for sure but I don’t regret it. (or at least not today :) let’s be honest it depends on how homesick I’m feeling)
25.) Be yourself (cliché but crucial)
    I’ve heard this one since I was 12. I’m 26 now and I still hear it. It’s so true though. It’s so freeing to just learn to be content with who you are. It’s exhausting trying to be someone you’re not. I used to be hard on myself for being quieter and someone that doesn’t really open up or show their goofy side until people really get to know me. I saw quietness as awkward and a weakness. Growing up, I wished I could be more outgoing and funny in school. I have accepted though that that’s just not my personality and that’s okay. There’s moments I have to step up and be more outgoing, especially in ministry but I am also able to see quietness as a strength and be okay that I’m not going to be the most outgoing person in the room.




I hope that this list encouraged or inspired you in some way. Have a great week!

-Amy

Monday, February 19, 2018

Foundations





   Sometimes, I think about my 18 year old self and what she would think about the way her life turned out. Would she be proud? Would she be upset or disappointed? Honestly, I think a bit of both. There are moments that it hits me that I am 25 and am not where I thought I would be by now. It is in those moments, that I question God on His goodness, His prescence and His love. I ask why my life did not pan out as I had planned. At other moments, I question that if I stayed home would I be closer to having the "American Dream" life ? Would I be closer to an apartment of my own, marriage and a well paying job? All the things in life that scream stability.
  I may not be where my 18 year old self would have hoped I would be but I would not have it any other way. I don't regret the things I've been through, the people I've met, the places I have seen and the things I have learned these past few years and since moving here. The biggest thing I have learned is that I make people my foundation more than I realized I did. I never realized how dependent I was on others for stability and security until I was far away from all the people in my life that provided stability and security. I never realized how much I valued being understood until I came to a place where I had to make myself understood. How can people understand you if you don't let them in and let them get to know you? They can't, unless you make an effort to let them in.
 I remember back in October, I was really discouraged. I had to start from scratch. I had to go through  this awkward stage of friendships where you don't know each other well enough to truly trust each other. You can vent about some things but not everything. I like deep conversations. I like honesty. I like having close friends that I can call on when I need them. You can't create closeness in 2 months though. Closeness takes time and while that can be frustrating it's a good opportunity for you to remember who knows you more than you know yourself, Jesus.
  I have never really been forced to depend on Jesus in a way that I have had to this year. When I longed to meet with a close friend and vent about things, I found myself venting to Jesus. When I first came here and just longed to be understood, I was hit with the realization that Jesus understands me so I would talk to him more than normal. When I ached for affirmation that again, only people who really know you, know how to give. I read Bible passages that affirmed me. I really learned that Jesus is the only firm foundation we can really place our trust and ourselves in. People will let us down at some point in our lives. Even those who know us really well because they are human. I am sure I have let people down in my life. A person cannot be our ultimate foundation. And really, placing all your security, identity, and stability on people, is just a lot of pressure to put on a person. I thought I understood that but surprise, I did not grasp that concept as well as I had thought until this past year. Making Jesus my foundation has helped me to feel more at peace. It frees me up to love others selflessly and helps me to not put high expectations on people to make me feel secure.
  So today, maybe you have been placing your foundation in those around you. Maybe you look at your life and you are not where you thought you would be. Maybe you wished you were married by now but you're not. Maybe you still haven't found your dream job and that is discouraging to you. Whatever it is for you today, it’s okay to be upset by those things. You can admit that it hurts that some things in life did not pan out in the timing you had hoped. I'd encourage you though to take a moment and reflect on all that you have learned. The positive things that have happened even if you don't quite have what you want. Then run to Jesus. Spend time talking with him, read the Bible, pray. He will be your firm foundation.
 To close, I'd like to leave you with a song I was introduced to back in the autumn. I hadn't listened to it much lately but I heard it earlier today and was really encouraged by it. I hope it can encourage you today too to remember that Jesus is a firm foundation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLSDBG1OcGE

Have a great week!

-Amy

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

You're Exactly Where You're Supposed to Be.



    It was a simple text but it was a text that I needed to hear (er well, read) more than I am sure my friend’s friend knew. I had some friends visiting about a week ago. After they left, my one friend’s friend sent me a text saying it was good to see me again and that she would be praying for me when she thought of me. She added, “You’re exactly where you're supposed to be”.
   Sometimes life for me here looks like picturesque cliff walks, talking and laughing with people, attending conferences for ministry leaders, playing “Land, Sea, and Shore” during kids clubs, consuming more bread and ice cream than any human being should on a daily basis, sitting around with teenagers talking about prayer, and getting to know people better/building friendships through late night chats or while walking through cities and beach towns.
   Other times life for me here is not so picturesque. It’s bursting into tears when it hits me how much I miss my close friends from home. It’s questioning if I have what it takes to do full-time ministry. It’s wondering overall if spending this much time away from the town I grew up in will be worth it. Was it worth it to leave my job and the kids I loved working with?  Should I have stayed? Will I have close friends while I'm here? It's longing to just hop on a plane and just spend 15 mins with my entire family, including those cousins that feel more like siblings than cousins and visit one of my favorite parks back home. It’s aching to hop in my car, put on some music and just drive through country back roads or at least drive myself to the gym rather than take a dart then a bus just to get to my gym.
    I’ve had friends tell me that they are proud of me and praying for me. I’ve had friends tell me that I’m where God wants me. For whatever reason though, I actually heard my friend’s friend when she told me I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Maybe it was because I didn’t believe it was true those first few times. Maybe my heart was still hardened to the idea that God might have a purpose and reason for bringing me here when He did. Who knows?
   For all the times these past 4 months I’ve wanted to pack up and call it quits and go back to pursuing my own plans, I’m actually beginning to believe that God’s plan for me here will be worth it and better than what I had in mind. He has already and is going to continue to push me out of my comfort zone in ways that make my skin crawl. He is going to open my eyes to the world around me more and teach me more about putting others before myself. I’m still going to feel inadequate as a leader, it’s still going to hurt that my closest friends are in a completely different country thousands of miles away, I’m not always going to be understanding about why God brought me to Ireland when He did and I’m still going to miss my car and be frustrated that I can’t drive while I’m here. However God will give me strength, comfort and energy because I am exactly where I am supposed to be, exactly where He wants me to be.
     So today, if you are questioning why you are where you are or feeling underqualified to do the things that God is asking you to do today. Know that if He has paved the way for you to do what He is asking of you, He will give you all you need and He will strengthen you and comfort you. You are exactly where you are supposed to be.

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen"-Philippians 4:19-20

Hope you have a great week!

~Amy

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Idolizing Strangers and Finding Identity in the Wrong Places

 
   

I leaned back and pressed forward into the door again while turning the key. I turned it right. I turned it left then right then tried again. It still didn’t open. “Oh come on” I thought to myself. “I’m hungry and tired. I just want to get into this house.” I put my heavy bag of groceries on the ground, took a deep breath and tried the key again. Still no luck. The sun felt particularly heavy as it streamed through the glass door behind me.
     I tried the bottom lock. It didn’t work. Maybe I should call Carla?*she did say I could give her a ring if I needed anything. I spent about 3 minutes just starring at my phone. Not wanting to call her. I didn’t want to have a stupid question about the house after I just moved in. Yet, here I was locked out of my own house not because I did not have a key but because I could not figure out how to open the dang door. I told myself that I needed to just get used to looking dumb and asking questions then begrudgingly gave my housemate a ring. It went to her answering machine. I hung up and put my phone in back pocket. Okay, think really hard. She showed you how to unlock the door. Just try to remember.  She said something about the locks. What was it again? I thought to myself. I tried again. I put the key on the bottom lock and heard a series of clicks then tried the top lock and turned the key to the left. Still nothing. I’m ashamed to say that this went on for about 10 more minutes and then it hit me. Wait! The top lock is only locked, the bottom is always unlocked. You need to turn the key to the right to unlock it not to the left. I remembered. I put the lock in the bottom one and turned it so it was unlocked then I went to the top lock and turned it right. The door popped open. I breathed a sigh of relief, grabbed my groceries off the ground and headed inside. 

     This is just one of the many mistakes that I have made since I have moved here. I have said things I should not have said because over here they do not mean the same thing as they mean in America. (If you ever visit, let me know so I can give you heads up about what those things are and save you from the embarrassment :) ) I have forgotten to bring enough reusable bags to SuperValu and have found myself trying to stuff as many groceries as possible in one bag all the while trying to appear composed and calm as a box of cereal and bags of rocket/lettuce topple out over the top.
      I have never felt so self-conscious in my life. I am one that likes to blend in. I like to go unnoticed out in public and I like not feeling slightly embarrassed in grocery stores. I don’t like wondering if the people on the dart think I’m tourist and then feeling this need to prove otherwise.  I don’t like worrying constantly if I am going to say or do the right thing.  
      Someone told me once that the things that we let consume our thoughts the most are the things that we idolize the most. Within just one week of being more officially moved in, I found myself getting ready in the mornings thinking constantly about what I was wearing and if what I was wearing would help me blend in on my commute into town. I began comparing myself to some of the Irish girls in city centre. I would compare my appearance to theirs and think about how I would never measure up to them and I sure would never get any of the Irish guys to look twice at me if they are always surrounded by women that look like that. I know these things are awful and shallow but these are the thoughts that I found myself unexpectedly consumed by. Before I knew it I was idolizing what strangers thought of me. It’s one thing to worry if people you know will like you but here I was constantly worrying what complete strangers would think of me if they saw me or talked to me. I felt like I hit a whole new low.
      I have to remind myself that the reality is that I was not born here and I am going to make loads of mistakes because I don’t know what’s expected without observing and asking questions. I can wear whatever I think will make me blend in the most but I'm still an American. I’m going to stick out and I am going to be asked  time and time again if I am away on Holiday. I was reminded this past week that my identity is ultimately in Christ. My identity does not lie in whether or not I fit in or blend in the background. My identity does not lie in whether or not I have the approval of strangers. My identity does not lie in being an American either. My identity lies in being a daughter of God.
      You would think that after 9 years of being a Christian I would understand that what matters is not how others see me but how Christ sees me. Unfortunately though I’m a forgetful daughter and need to be reminded time and time again of the things that really matter. Fortunately though, God doesn’t give up on his forgetful children. Instead, he is patient and gracious with them even when they don’t let him consume their thoughts, the way they should. He is constant and still there when I get off track and begin to idolize things I shouldn’t idolize. He reminds me my identity is in Christ when I place my identity in the wrong places. It is only with Christ that I can I put all these self-focused thoughts aside and focus on loving the people around me. It is only with Christ that I can care about the strangers I see and focus on how I can show Christ to them in some small way rather than worry if they think I’m good enough, pretty enough, city enough or not a tourist.
     So if you find yourself consumed by selfish thoughts, idolizing approval or acceptance, remember whose you are and remember that you are made in the image of God. He has approved you. He has accepted you. Share with Him that you are wrestling with those things. He can help you focus outward instead of inward.

Have a great week!

~Amy 
"See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God and that is what we are!" -1 John 3:1

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Mourning over Chipotle and Rita's

   Normally when I think of missions, I think of sacrifice. I think of Jim Elliot who went to Ecuador to reach the Huaorani people. I think of Amy Carmichael who left everything familiar behind and went to India and opened up an orphanage. I think of Hudson Taylor who went to China to share the Gospel. All these people have had to sacrifice much more than I have had to. All these people had more reasons to be afraid of where they were headed.
 I have learned that no matter where you go and no matter how excited you are to experience the things the country you are going to has to offer there is a grieving process and a transition process that isn't always easy. I have learned that sometimes as petty as it sounds, laying down your life doesn't mean literally going somewhere you may lose your life but it means giving up summer shorts and tank tops, Rita's, Chipotle, Taco Bell and Chic-fil-A.  It's accepting the fact that you won't have the freedom to get in your car whenever you want and drive around your favorite park. It's accepting the fact that you cannot date for a whole year. You have been single for a year before but somehow knowing that you really can't date at all for a year makes that year of not dating seem worse than it probably will be. It's the realization that you won't experience 80-90 degree weather for 2 years. I could go on and list more but I won't.
 It's silly little things but the realization that you won't have them does makes a difference and you learn that no matter how safe a country is, you still go through loss and you still do sacrifice. I have realized that it is okay to grieve over those things no matter how silly they may be.

If you're reading this and have ever had to make some type of major transition or have been in a similar boat as I am, I hope that this could bring you comfort in someway just by seeing you're not alone in what your facing. If you're diving into a long-term overseas commitment, know that it's okay to grieve the silly things.

I am grateful to all my family, friends and supporters who have been with me through this process as my deployment date draws closer. I really mean it when I say I couldn't do this without you. Thank you!

Have a great week,

Amy



Saturday, January 7, 2017

What The Heck, Do I Even Know of Holy?

    

    Sometimes I worry when my pursuit of holiness feels like such a roller coaster that I’m not good enough to be a “real” Christian but that’s not how grace works. The Christian life is not perfect, it is meant to be filled with ups and downs, because well, just because you’re a Christian it does not mean that you are perfect. Nor does it mean that you have it altogether. The difference is that you have hope and you have a strength that is not of your own that can help you through the ups and downs. The truth is you are going to make choices that you know are unwise because you are human and you are going to have moments were you don’t want to do the “right” thing but you choose to do the “right” thing anyways. Paul explains this ongoing battle perfectly in Romans 7:15-25:
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

I think that when you are a Christian, it takes you your entire life to grow. It is as the Holy Spirit works in your heart, that you can begin to actually want to do the “right” thing. It is Christ who makes a Christian “holier”, it is him alone that makes a person pure. There is nothing in a single Christian in this entire planet that has anything in them without Christ to make them pure or holy. It is grace alone that saves and grace alone that sustains. I think that while grace can lead believers (myself included) to feel like they can do whatever they want because they are covered by grace, it can be easy for some people to diminish grace and not want to talk about it, in fears that the message will get lost and people will go jumping off the deep end left and right because grace has them covered. That’s not the right mindset either though. Grace is why Jesus came to save people. Grace is how people are saved and grace is what God offers us every single day.
So if you've ever felt in the same boat as me, give yourself grace and remind yourself where your strength comes from and where your hope is found. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Why There Is Hope When You're Not Feeling Too 'Merry or Bright'


Christmas is time when it feels like the whole world is full of joy. People seem a little bit more cheerful. Your neighborhood is filled with colorful, twinkly lights. People become more unified and choose set their differences aside. Everyone feels a little bit more in love with life and it seems like their heart is bursting with joy.
  But for you those feelings may not be there this Holiday season. Maybe there's an empty seat around your dinner table this year. Maybe everywhere you look in your life lately all you see is hard things and change. Maybe you are happy with your life but as you have gotten older, you have become more aware of the fact that the holidays are not a happy time for everyone so you feel happy and thankful but yet your heart still feels heavy.
 It's tempting to call yourself a "Scrooge" and  worry that you're not enjoying this season the way you are supposed to. I think that in the moments this season when we do feel a little more weary, have trouble being grateful for circumstances and feel a bit more pain, we have an opportunity to appreciate what Christmas is about. When we are hurting or become so deeply aware of the need in this world for healing and redemption, we can be reminded of the hope that was given to us. The hope that is found in Jesus Christ, the Savior sent to save the entire world. We can find hope in knowing that these days will come to an end and that one day there will be no more pain or suffering (Revelation 21:1-4) And that, I believe is a beautiful thing and a thing worth thinking on today. So maybe in the times when we are more frustrated or discouraged with the world and life here, we are able to appreciate more the life that is offered in Jesus and can rejoice in the hope that we have in him.

I hope you all have a wonderful Holiday and a Happy New Year!
-Amy

"Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David"-Luke 1:68-69