What is the Meaning of Christmas?

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The end of my “25 days of Christmas” photo challenge (check posts below) leads me to asking, what is the meaning of Christmas?  I’m tempted to say, “family”.  Heck, I know lots of people who aren’t Christian who have a Christmas tree and exchange gifts.  I’ve even heard that Christmas has pagan roots.  Looking past all of this, what should Christmas mean, or what does it mean to me?

Mathew 1:23 reads, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”  It’s funny because it was Christmas Day I remembered that I somehow forgot about the true meaning of it all along.  The meaning of Christmas is honoring the birth of Jesus Christ.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about the holiday.  We can all get so wrapped up in the material things and forget what’s important.  But there’s something very beautiful about Christmas time: it requires you to think of others.  It brings people together.  If done right, it reminds us of what we should truly be grateful for.

My Christmas memory was from when I was a little kid.  I received a Christmas sweater I didn’t like, and I actually told the person who gave it to me what to get me instead the next year.  Yes, I was that kid.

Sometimes when I reflect on the person I used to be, and in some ways the person I am becoming, I feel so grateful.  My memories, good and bad, are not me.

Regardless of what you may have received this Christmas season, there’s is one gift available to all: salvation.  This means that everything that separates and divides you from the love of God is taken away because Jesus Christ died on a cross for your sins. This gift reminds me everyday that my worth is beyond any number.

You are loved and eternally valuable!  Merry “day-after” Christmas!  🙂

P.S- I’ll be renaming this blog and buying a domain name, does anyone have suggestions?  Let me know!

25 Days of Christmas (Day 12)

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(Day 12) Samantha Bendernagel

“Warning to all believers.  Stop, do not read.

My family moved when I was in fourth grade and then I was worried that Santa wouldn’t know my address and think the other kids were me and I couldn’t have that.  So I wrote him a letter in July so he would know, [saying]

‘Dear Santa this is Samantha J Bendernagel, I used to live at, my old address but now I just moved here.  I don’t want you to forget about me.  Sorry for the extra trip, but I can make it worth your while.  Do you like chocolate chip cookies?  Do you like regular milk or chocolate milk?’

So my parents were cracking up about this and thought it would be funny to write back.  They wrote me this letter and I’m in school the next day saying ‘Santa Claus wrote me back’.  My mom made the candy cane outline, it was the real deal.  Yeah, so I was so pumped about it.  And a lot of kids were trying to say ‘He’s not real’ and I was like ‘But he didn’t write you a letter though’.

Christmas eve that year I got the cookies and milk he wanted.  Every Christmas eve I would go to bed and my parents and my sister would help put up the tree.  But then I realized I forgot to give Santa milk. I go downstairs and see my parents put presents underneath the tree.  I’m at the top and I went back to my room and cried myself to sleep.

I woke the next day and was like, ‘LIARS!’, needless to say, I was not happy.”

God centered life

 

I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.  My school work, friends, future, family, and everything in between.  And when I was so busy thinking about everything going on in my life, I failed to remember God.

It’s funny isn’t it?  No, it’s not.  It’s a little bit sad.

For the entirety of my life I have been a “christian” but I fear I’ve been a Christian in name alone.  I go to church, I follow my commandments but I fail to give God all the glory and honor he deserves.  And what amazes me is that God see this girl who puts him last many times, who forgets him..  Somehow he still deems me worthy of his forgiveness, his love, his mercy.  There is no one in the entire world who would be so gracious, but my God.

Today I want to change the way I live my life.  I want to say I am a Christian and be so grateful to know the truth.   Because I am blessed by the fact that my grandfather was a believer and his before him.  Their prayers still watch over me and cover me.

But their salvation is not enough to reach me, I need to make a decision to really and actually put God first.

So what does it look like when someone leads a God centered life?

Well everything else that goes on daily simply pales in comparison.  You don’t read your bible because you have a daily quota, you read your bible because you just want to.  You get lost in praying to God and wonder how time could slip so quickly away.  And you change, 100% you change everything about yourself.  Not because you make this conscious effort to change.  But because you are so in love with God and so surrounded by him in every aspect that he influences every action you make.

When we choose to follow God and put him first everything else just falls into place.  Philippians 4:13 reads “I can do all things through him who strengthens me”, and we can.  That’s the amazing thing about God.  There are literally no limits to what you are capable above, and God will direct in the path meant for you.

I want to live like that.

So in love with God that my life can be a testimony to him and that I can shine because of the light and joy he places into my life.

Mark 12:30 reads, “Love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  That’s no joke.  That means something.  Today for the first time I will try to understand what exactly that means.

Day 24: Something you’ve learned

Something that I’ve learned over the course of the past 24 days, or more so my life, is that you can never make some one love you.  And I don’t just mean this romantically.  All relationships, be it between family members, friends or romantically require the cooperation of two separate entities.  And because of that you can never make someone love you.

Trust me, I’ve tried.

It reminds me of the idea that I can meet someone for the first time and know within seconds that we’ll be best friends.  But then I’ll know someone my entire life and never really feel close to them.  Yes, I’m the type of person to make annoying small talk.  I do it to be polite, even if it’s excruciatingly boring.

Basically, it comes down to this idea that you can really be friends with absolutely anyone.  You’d be surprised by how much you can have in common with a stranger.  You can talk for hours on end about your favorite television show or a good book, but they need to want to talk to you.  And you can love someone to the moon and back, but they need to want to love you.

They need to be excited to see you and take time to show you that you matter.  Otherwise, why are you even wasting your time on someone who doesn’t care for you.  I have this stupid rule in friendships.  I’ll be the first person to initiate a conversation, almost always, but if you don’t respond don’t expect me to try again.  It may be harsh but its a rule I’ve followed and a rule that he done me well for a good while now.  Because if someone wants to talk to you, they will respond.  And if someone cares about your friendship, they shouldn’t ignore you.

I’ve always found the idea of a guy chasing after a girl with little interest in him sickening.  This may be the influence of Korean dramas in my life this past summer but it just looks pathetic to me.  You’re painted this picture that a guy who comes close to stalking a girl is the model of true love.  It’s not.  It’s the model of being a stalker and needed a restraining order soon.

And maybe once in a while pining after someone you don’t know works.  But how much do you really want someone who never really loved you in the first place?  And who made you work for their admiration?

People make time for the people they love in their life.  Stop wasting your time on people who don’t make time for you.

Day 19: Something you miss

I miss my cousins in India so badly.  I miss my family in India.  I just miss India.  Like I mentioned in my last “30 Day Challenge” post, India is my favorite place to be.

I miss the way being in India makes me feel.  It’s always hot and I struggle not to sweat.  I’m not quite sure why I do that, sweating is natural but I try to find the coldest room in my house and just lie down. Sometimes when I’m in India I try to avoid India.  Everything tastes different in India.

The ice cream has this weird consistency.  I remember going to Carvel in Bangalore and eating ice cream that actually tasted like ice cream and feeling so excited.  My cousins were bewildered by the taste.  The “American” food is spicy and the Indian food is always fresher.

What I find so funny is that the morning the picture above was taken I was bitterly crying.  I was a sophomore in high school who was visiting India for only 2 weeks during my spring break.  AP Exams were coming fast so I was going through all of India and still doing homework from time to time.  My papers for studying had fallen from the truck of my car into a ditch and were almost ruined.  I was bitterly crying because my homework meant so much to me.  It was so stupid now that I look back at it.

We were staying with my great-uncle.  He was one of those people who seemed really hard and unapproachable but loving and like a teddy bear all at the same time.  He saw how upset I was and ironed out all my papers so that they were dry and almost as good as new.

That was the last memory I have of him, and can have of him.  Because he died before I could visit him again.  I think he’s what I’ll miss most.  If my mom gave him “american” money he always thought it was a big deal and kept it on display.  He loved us, he really did.  And I still don’t feel like he’s really gone.  Because dying doesn’t really mean someone isn’t there for you anymore.  They live on and on as long as you care enough to remember them.

I miss India because as angry as I felt at times, my aunt could always find a way to make me look at a situation in a completely different light.  I remember watching a podcast and hearing how a man was asked if he regretted studying physics in college now that he was doing business.  He said no because math has a way of teaching him to look at a problem and look at it from a completely new way and find a way to solve it.

That’s what my aunt did for me.  She would look at me and suddenly I felt so stupid for becoming angry at something small, she killed me with her kindness!  I was only 16 when I visited India but I remember telling my aunt that when I got married, if she couldn’t come to America I would get married there.  And I remember seeing her almost cry from joy.  She was happy that I still remembered her, how could I not?

I’ll always miss my family in India when I’m not with them, and my family and friends in America when I’m not them.  It reminds me of my grandma who always tells me that when she’s taking care of my cousins in India she misses me and my brother so much.  And when she’s with us, she misses my cousins so much.  All she really wants is for all of us to be with her together.