Last year, in an effort to help myself focus more on a daily remembrance of Christmas, I decided to choose a word a day, and a spiritual thought to go with it, and make a daily Facebook post.  Beginning with the letter “A”, working through to “Z”, I had a lot of fun contemplating some great thoughts and relating them to Christmas, and a lot of friends joined in too!  It was an encouragement to all of us, and if you missed them, they’re listed below.  And join me in another Facebook Advent Journey this year or follow my blog for a weekly update!  ‘Tis the season … for a fresh focus on Christmas!  May this be your best, most Christ-focused Christmas yet!

AWARE — be aware that God is near. Quiet moments allow our hearts and minds to listen and hear from God — He’s making the way to come to us:)

BEAUTY. True beauty draws us, captures us, delights and inspires us. Not the glitz and glam facade but the deep-to-the core kind. The beauty of a moment, the beauty of a song, the beauty of a smile, the beauty of creation. And the beauty of a Savior born on a silent night in a simple stable. Bask in beauty today:)

CONTEMPLATE. We rush through so many aspects of Christmas, in a hurry, and we don’t take time to contemplate: friends and family; the meaning behind traditions; words of favorite carols; And most importantly, contemplate the wonder of a God who chose to make a way for us to know Him, through the birth of His son. Amazing!

DELIGHT! “to satisfy greatly”. Do you find yourself delighting in the trappings of Christmas? The planning, the cooking, the parties, the programs, the shopping, the decorating, etc? Jesus must be so disappointed in all our efforts to pull off “Christmas”, when all along, He IS Christmas. Let Him be your ultimate DELIGHT. He’s the greatest gift – the only gift that truly satisfies:)

EMPTY. Amid the appearance of the fullness of the season, there’s always emptiness among us. Empty arms, empty homes, empty stomachs, empty hearts. There was an empty manger waiting for a baby that would lead to an empty cross and an empty grave. Jesus came to fill your empty places:)

FOLLOW. What or who do you follow? Like the wise men, do you follow a light – a star, drawn by God? Or like Herod, do you follow your own selfish plans? Or maybe like Mary, do you follow a God you’ve believed in all your life, wholeheartedly, trusting Him, not knowing where it might lead, and when it doesn’t fit your plans? Simply because to not follow Him would lead nowhere.

GLAD is today’s Advent word. “Glad: to experience pleasure, joy, or delight. Pleasant.” To me, glad means a sense of being aware of what makes my heart smile. Not the giddy, bubbly, fakey, happy kind of glad. But the deep well of of glad found in a heart which dwells peacefully in God. Circumstances can overshadow emotions, but no matter what comes our way, we can always choose to be glad:D! Psalm 16:9

HOPE. When I think of hope, it can be a wonderfully dangerous feeling. Hope can bring life, be given, received, shared, and it can also be destroyed, dashed, and devastated, bringing disappointment. But somehow, it can always be renewed. Why? Because the Giver of life, is also the Giver of true hope. Hope wrapped in love, lying in a manger, waiting to be held by those who believe:) Rom. 5:5

IMAGINE! Christmas spurs our imagination. As children, we imagine a Santa Claus, and the sound of reindeer hooves on our roof! As adults, we can lose the wonder of imagination. Let your imagination wander back into the mystery of a young pregnant girl, a stable, angels singing in the heavens, and kings following a marvelous light, bringing fabulous gifts to the King of Kings!

JESUS! The reason for the season, right?!? I wonder sometimes what He would think about all of our busy-ness during His Season — all for Him, of course!! I think of Mary and Martha. Martha so busy with preparations, she missed out on the one thing Jesus really desired – her attention, her presence, hearing His voice. She missed the relationship. Don’t miss Jesus this year:)

KING. It’s hard to think of a baby in a manger with a title of King. The coming of Jesus was world-changing. His kingdom didn’t look like what people thought it should, and He didn’t have the appearance of most kings. This confused the religious people of His day, and confuses many religious people today, who don’t understand this King. A King who died to save, and who will reign forever!

LIGHT! We love the light displays and glow of candles at Christmas. Light shines, dispels darkness, guides, illuminates, nourishes, protects, and gives warmth. A favorite name of Jesus is when He said, “I am the Light of the World – whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Let His light wash over you this Christmas, and share His light with the world:)

MAGNIFY – today’s Advent word. When faced with distressing news and unexpected circumstances, this was Mary’s response. “May it be to me as you have said . . . my soul MAGNIFIES (enlarges) the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has done great things for me and holy is His name!” An example of courage, love, obedience, and joy. She didn’t get lost in her circumstances – she got lost in her Savior:)

NEED is Advent word today. We chase many things in life — success, power, wealth, status, material things, recognition. But what do we really need – down in the depths of our soul? A favorite carol says it well: “Born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth. Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn King!” More than anything, we need a Savior – Jesus:)

OPEN. At Christmas, we love to open gifts! To receive a gift, we have to first open our hands. God gave us the greatest gift – His Son, and the promises in His Word. But we can’t receive His life in a tight fist, nor His love with a closed heart, nor His truth with a closed mind. Open your hand, your heart, and your mind to His life, His love, and His word this Christmas!

To know the PROMISE of His PERFECT PEACE is to rest in the POWER of His PRESENCE. To exchange His peace for your own power is to forfeit His presence. Jesus actually disrupted the lives of those who sought to live in their own power. But He changed the lives of those who sought His peace. Exchange Christmas chaos for Christmas peace! Is. 26:3

Shh!! QUIET is today’s Advent word:) God had all the power to send his son into the world, blazing with the fullness of His might. But He sent a tiny baby, on a still starlit night, in a simple stable. A phrase from a Christmas song, says: “You came like a winter snow — quiet and soft, and slow.” Jesus doesn’t force Himself on anyone. He quietly whispers into our hearts. We have just have to be still and listen.

RECONCILE: “to cause to be friendly again”; is today’s Advent word. Christmas often highlights unreconciled relationships. The defining difference Christmas makes is simple for those who believe why Jesus was born. We were apart from God, but He made a way to find us, and reconcile us to Himself. He offers reconciliation, but we have to take it. Don’t let pride prevent you from reconciliation this Christmas:)

SING! I can hear the rumors flying. “Did you hear about Mary?” Young, pregnant, misunderstood, judged, enduring whispers and gossip. Yet God had put a calling on Mary’s life. Mary knew the truth and believed God. She didn’t let people or circumstances keep her from that calling. What does she do? She keeps her eyes on the Author and Finisher of her faith. And she joyfully, confidently — SINGS!

TRAVEL is today’s Advent word. There’s a lot of traveling associated with Jesus’ birth. Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem. The wise men traveled to Bethlehem. Then Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt after Jesus’ birth. Unsure of the outcome, each traveler trusted and obeyed God for the journey. We’re all on a journey – be a light for other travelers this Christmas!

UNSELFISH. In a culture that caters to our indulgences and brainwashes us into a mindset of entitlement, unselfishness is not a natural response in most situations. “I’m worth it- I deserve it”, is what we’re told, and sadly, our kids have learned it well. Being unselfish means we take our “self” out of the equation- give up our own wants, and consider others’ needs before our own. Radical. But real:). Have a radical Christmas!

VIOLENCE is today’s Advent word. Morbid, huh? I find myself mourning the loss of all the baby boys murdered in a fit of rage by a jealous king, Herod. Why didn’t God stop it? Because we battle against evil forces in heavenly places. Jesus was all about love and peace, but violence remains until He comes again. It’s so important that we spread His love and His peace to a hurting world. Choose to love this Christmas:D!

WELCOME is the Advent word today! Christmas is just one big welcome, it seems. Sadly, though, there are those who are close-minded, close-hearted, and close-spirited – the hard walls keep the heart cold. Makes me think of the Grinch, and how one little girl welcomed him and changed his heart. I am attracted to people who are warm and welcoming – be a welcoming person this Christmas! Jesus welcomes us all:)

X-AMINE YOURSELF. Christmas causes us all to reflect, or at least it should. To take stock personally, spiritually, emotionally. To think about where we are in our heart, with God, with people, with life. Christmas often has a way of exposing what’s really in our hearts. You’ve heard the phrase, “what’s in your wallet?” I’d like to ask, what’s in your heart this Christmas?

ZECHARIAH: Zechariah’s song is recorded in Luke, a wonderful summation of the Messiah. “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people!” From the manger to Mt. Calvary, Jesus lived to die — for you and for me! This is Christmas:)