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Christmas just around the corner; how can that be true?
New Years’ bells ringing in 2012 still echo within as if the year’s new
The weeks and then the months flew by…and the days flew even more,
Whilst I was a’wondering what this year would hold in store.

Translation: I’m not ready for Christmas. How about you?

I have more than one friend who starts preparing for – and celebrating – Christmas in Oct. I’m still at the Bah Humbug stage then over advertisers creeping ever earlier into this Holy Holiday with pushy promos of every kind. Not even Christ’s birth is elevated above the greed to use all things to sales’ advantage.

The oversell didn’t press my family to buy more; essentials used up our family budget. I grew up in a small Minnesota town, the youngest daughter in a family of 7. My father was the village mechanic and trash truck driver. Monthly pay, $72. Yet I never felt deprived. Recently, T. D. Jakes commented, “We didn’t know we were poor growing up”. Thankfully, we never had catsup for spaghetti sauce as the Jakes’ family did. Catsup is one of my least favorite condiments (right next to mustard). Even the smell gags me.

Two other un-favorites of mine from my Swedish background – served as Christmas specialties: pickled pigs’ feet and blood pancakes (the pigs having been slaughtered right outside our kitchen. Their squeals a horror and the tastes of the finished foods an affront to my taste buds and my sensibilities)

So what were my childhood Christmas joys? Delicious pork roast and GOBS of mashed potatoes…so I didn’t have to partake of the dreaded pigs’ feet. (And I was also able to wiggle my way around the mournful blood pancakes.) Playing outdoors on the almost guaranteed snowbanks (northern Minn., ya know.) Tree trimming on Christmas Eve right after returning from the Village Hall where Santa passed out boxes of Christmas candy. Attending Christmas Candlelight services with my sister Carole. The excitement of reaching for the fruits and nuts in our stockings and then eagerly opening our one small (utilitarian) gift each. The time was wonder-filled.

Ah, how sweet and simple. That’s how I like Christmas.

May we look for the best in the Christmas set before us, even if the trappings hold a variety of traps eager to sap our faith and joy. My daughter, Carlene, though her circumstances aren’t shouting, “Joy to the world”, called the other day to ask, “ Have you listened to the words of our Christmas carols?” then she sang to me, “O, Come all ye faithful, Joyful and triumphant!…” adding, “That’s me, Faithful, Joyful, Triumphant.” I relish her bold faith. May each of us gift the Christ child with increased trust in Him, so He may continue to enlarge His abiding place within us.

After penning the devotion on “Entering His Rest in a time of unrest”, I discovered I’d left at least one reader in a state of unrest over The Solution is NOT in the Problem. Her question was,

Now what does THAT mean?
Well, THAT means “The solution to your problem is NOT in the problem. Not much help, huh? The
phrase is so familiar to me – downloaded into my hard drive of experiential truth – that, to me, it was self-explanatory. The question was an editorial incision; a reminder to clarify…so here goes…

The Solution is NOT in the problem simply put means…take your attention off of what you can’t figure out.” That explanation doesn’t answer the Why?, so let me try to answer the Why? Rehearsing
the problem – thinking it through over and over – in hopes of finding a solution decreases clarity. We get stuck in the muck of our muddle, making it a puddle of wasted tears and increasing fears. Like fast growing rice fields, our doubts sprout up suddenly and our spiritual clout is crowded out.

Whether the problem is MAJOR or lack of inner peace from a myriad of lesser concerns, His answer remains the same, “Trust Me.” (Have you noticed that His response often doesn’t actually answer our questions??? In fact, since He’s an economical God, I wonder at times if He has an automatic voicemail response, “Trust Me.” )

So what to do practically to keep focusing on trusting HIM instead of mulling over the problem like a dog gnawing on a meatless bone? Well, He has a way that helps guard our hearts against the yearning to gnaw a bit longer…

Re-focus … intentionally – Take personal responsibility for your thoughts.

“Be continually renewed in the spirit of your mind—having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude;
Put on the new nature (the regenerate self)…rejecting all falsity…’
From Eph. 4:23-25 Amplified

CHOOSE to practice trusting Him…THEN PRACTICE! The ACTION OF PRACTICING (following through on your decision) will begin to displace the old (and unproductive) practice of gnawing on the problem.

“Whatever is true….worthy of praise…think on and take account of these
things…fix your mind on what is true. Practice (doing this)…model your way
of living on it and the God of Peace will be with you.”
From Phil. 4:8-9 Amplified

Become Choice-activated and experience The Power of Choice
Amazing Grace! As we practice thinking on what is Truth, we become aware of His Peace within us and our inner being hums, “It is well with my soul.” When we remain anxious, the clamoring of our fears creates dissonance within and distances us from awareness of His Presence.

“I love your writing. You really have a way with zingers, but I think what really matters is the life wisdom you bring to the page. You say hard things, but you make them go down like warm apple pie.” David Kopp - executive editor, Multnomah Books

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