Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

In the run up to Christmas each year millions of pounds are spent on gifts. So in the last few weeks I, like many of you will have started to think about what gifts to buy my family and friends for Christmas this year. So out of curiosity I wondered how much on average we spend on Christmas presents each year, in the UK. It turns out that the figure varies dramatically depending on who you ask or where you look, but the average seems to range from between £350 to just under £1000!

Whether we are planning on spending anything like those amounts of money on gifts this year, or our budget is much less, the gifts we buy can still be fantastic and memorable for the receiver.

The most meaningful presents we receive might not come wrapped in shiny paper or frilly ribbons. They are often the ones that lift your spirit, brighten your day or trigger your imagination or memories. So I wonder what was the most memorable or best gift you have ever received for Christmas?

I decided to ask some of friends what was the best gift they ever received for Christmas. Here’s some of the answers I got.

  1. I would say for me it has to be between the laptop I got last year or the ps4 I got two years ago.
  2. I was given a gift bag filled with little stuff (a cd, stud earrings, a little book etc) that probably wasn’t worth much to anyone else. But each gift had a little post it note explaining why they’d brought that or what it was about the thing that had made them think of me. It was so thoughtful and made me feel special.
  3. A Levi red tab denim jacket I got when I was 12.  We didn’t buy or wear “things that had labels”. I remember sleeping in it in case my parents decided to return it. We also didn’t have masses of money and I had an idea that it must have been quite expensive. Honestly, best present ever – I still have it and I’m now 40! My nieces now fight over who gets to wear it as it’s now ‘vintage’.
  4. The huge big teddy bear I got when I was 7 – it was almost bigger than me – I still have him.
  5. A few years ago in my last job I had a really tough year because of a serious health problem but carried on working when I could. When I was in the office some of the guys would put bits of paper on my desk with positive quotes, and I loved that. Then that Christmas, one of them sent me a Happy Box – It’s a box containing lots of bits of paper with lots of positive quotes. So now whenever I am feeling low, I just open the box and take out one of the. And yes, it’s not solving my health problems but at least I always end up with a smile on my face.

Have you thought of the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received?

The real message of Christmas is not the gifts that we give to each other. Instead it is a reminder of the gift that God has given to each of us, the gift of Jesus. There is one final ‘best gift’ story from a friends that I want to share with you

  • My mother-in-law gave my family a stocking with the name “JESUS” written across it. Each year on Christmas morning my family writes a letter to Jesus and puts it into the stocking.
  • This is a tradition my husband and his family have been doing since he was little. They have yet to open and read any of these letters, but they are a constant reminder each year as we begin to decorate our tree and wrap our presents, that the greatest gift we have is Jesus.
  • This gift has guaranteed my family will take time to focus on the Lord during the festive season.

I was really touched this – the way they start each festive season by focusing on Jesus is such a great way to ensure they never forget the reason we celebrate Christmas.

2 Corinthians 9:15 (TPT)

Praise God for his astonishing gift, which is far too great for words!

The best Christmas gift we will ever receive isn’t a gift someone placed under a Christmas tree for us, but was a gift of great sacrifice, the best gift from God, of His Son, Jesus Christ, who came into this world in the simplest and humblest of surroundings.

Romans 6:23 (NIV)

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 John 5:11 (NIV)

This is the true testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life has its source in his Son.

This year as we look forward to opening the gifts we’ve received from our friends and family on Christmas morning, remember that no matter how great or meaningful those gifts may be, they will never be comparable to the best gift we can ever receive – God’s gift to us of his Son. So next time you’re asked what the greatest gift you’ve ever received is, I hope like me your answer is

‘Tis the Lord, O wondrous story!
‘Tis the Lord, the King of glory;
at his feet, we humbly fall,
crown him, crown him Lord of all!

Christmas!

Having got to the start of December and feeling as if it couldn’t possibly be less than four weeks until Christmas, I am now beginning to feel as if Christmas isn’t too far away!

As many of you will know I’m a member of the Salvation Army – I attend the Bellshill Salvation Army and am a member of the band. So now we’re into December our Christmas carolling and other Christmas engagements are now in full swing.

So guess who has now got Christmas carols, and arrangements of band Christmas pieces going round their head every day now? Yes, that’ll be me!

There’s a couple of pieces in particular that I keep thinking about, but it’s Mary Did you Know? that has  particularly touched me this year. Here’s Pentatonix singing this beautiful song.

Homeless

Posted: December 3, 2019 in Christmas, family, Glasgow, homeless, poverty, prayer
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Can you imagine what it would feel like to lose all your possessions in the space of a few hours?

Well for some families in Glasgow a few weeks ago, this nightmare became reality for them.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-50379853

I can’t imagine how those families must have felt, losing all their possessions, but at least everyone got our safely.

I’ve no idea how those folks will start to rebuild their lives, their family homes, or how long it will take them. It will no doubt be particularly hard for them at this time of year they may have lost presents they have already bought, they have probably lost precious sentimental items that can never be replaced.

I pray these families will receive all the help they need to help them rebuild their lives and get settled in new homes.

Can you believe it, we’ve reached December already? It seems to have been a really quick year, as it doesn’t seem that long ago we were just celebrating Easter. My Mum always told me that time passing quickly was a sign of getting older, although I always chose to dismiss this! Maybe there’s some truth in this, or maybe it’s just that when there’s a lot going on in your life and you’ve more things to juggle to fit everything in, time does seem to pass quicker, I don’t know.

Anyway, back to it being December – Not just December, but Advent Sunday. Do you know what Advent Sunday is?

Advent Sunday, which is also known as the first Sunday of Advent, is the first day of the Advent season. Advent season is the time when Christians prepare to celebrate Christmas, when they celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Advent Sunday is always the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day. It does even need to be in December, as it can fall as early as November 27 or as late as December 3.

On the first Sunday of Advent, Christian churches around the world will light their first candle of Advent. They will light an additional candle each of the following Sundays in the lead up to Christmas.

Now that the advent season has arrived, you’ve probably either started to put up your own Christmas decorations or have seen decorations that others have put up. You may have been our carol singing or playing Christmas carols, and if not, I’m sure that will all start very soon.

At the start of this advent season, please take time to remember what all the activities we’re involved in in these coming weeks, are really all about, the Christ of Christmas.

I’ve done a few Word Associations with you over the last while, and today it’s time for another one. So as usual I’m going to throw some words at you, and I want you to note down the first word that comes into your mind when you read each word.

So here goes…

  1. Patrol
  2. Word
  3. Perfect
  4. Belief
  5. Fish
  6. Ocean
  7. Hair
  8. Glass
  9. Orchid
  10. Heater

wordsSo how did you get on with those words? Did you find it easy? Did your answers surprise you or were they just as you expected?

Well here’s my responses to my questions:

  1. Police
  2. Dictionary
  3. Mistake
  4. God
  5. Chippy
  6. Disaster
  7. Colour
  8. Eyes
  9. Christmas
  10. Gas

I still believe that when we respond with the first words that come into our minds, our answers tell us a lot about our emotional state, and what’s important to us at that particular point in time.

Bearing all this in mind, review your answers, does my theory hold true?

By the way, if you want me to explain any of my answers, just ask!

I’ve done a few Word Associations with you, and today, as the title of this post suggests, this word association is all about New Year and what it means to each of us. So as usual I’m going to throw some words at you and I want you to note down the first word that comes into your mind when you read each word.

So here goes…

  1. Hogmanay
  2. Resolution
  3. End
  4. January
  5. Holidays
  6. Shortbread
  7. Ceilidh
  8. Christmas tree
  9. Food
  10. Work

So how did you get on with those words? Did you find it easy? Did your answers surprise you or were they just as you expected?

Well here’s my responses to my questions:

  1. 31 December
  2. Broken
  3. New start
  4. Winter
  5. Over
  6. Scotland
  7. Social
  8. Away
  9. Fat
  10. Sad

Were any of your answers the same as mine? Did any of my answers confuse you? Did any of your own answers confuse you?

I’ve said in previous word association posts that I find I get a bit stressed when I’m doing them as I put a lot of pressure on myself not to over think my answers! Are you relaxed when you do them or do you find it stressful too?

I still believe that when we respond with the first words that come into our minds, our answers tell us a lot about our emotional state, and what’s important to us at that particular point in time.

Bearing all this in mind, review your answers, does my theory hold true?

I chose some words we probably all associate with New Year as well as some that I suspect if you’re not Scottish, you won’t understand (including some of my answers), maybe it’s time to find out a bit more about our Scottish New Year traditions!

That’s Christmas and New Year over, and before we know it, we’ll all be back at work or school, and we’ll be back in our daily routine again. Before we know it Christmas will seem like a distant memory as we head into what is usually the coldest, iciest and snowiest part of winter in the UK.

Now that I’ve completely depressed you all by what lies ahead of us as far as the weather is concerned, let’s go back to thinking about this new year and what it means to us.

Are you one of those people who makes one or more new year resolutions? Or have you been there done that in the past and now think they are a waste of time?

I’ve made new year resolutions in the past, but for a number of years now I haven’t made any resolutions. Why? Not because there’s nothing about my life I want to change this year, but because I don’t need the start of a new year to be determined to make these changes. Also what may be my targets or aims for this new year may change during the year because of circumstances, so where would that leave a resolution I made at the start of a year when circumstances were potentially different, so would never achieve them.

Yes I still  make a new start each year, but I make my targets and aims as I go through the year and I find this works best for me. It allows me to focus on what is important to me at the time, rather than focusing on goals set a number of month previously.

How about you, have you set new year resolutions? How achievable do you think your resolutions are?

Christmas viewing

Posted: December 29, 2018 in Christmas, family, religion, television
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When I was younger, I remember always looking forward to the Christmas season for many reasons: time with family, presents, remembering the birth of Jesus and of course Christmas TV.

Maybe it’s just my imagination now, but the programmes on TV then were so much better than they are these days. I remember there being lots of Christmas specials of all the favourite TV shows, very few repeats, and lots of great Christmas films.

That is definitely not what we have had this Christmas is it? There have been so many repeats of old Christmas shows which now look so dated, loads of animation films that don’t relate to the Christmas season at all, and when it comes to the soaps, they certainly haven’t been particularly cheery once again!

 

I have to say that, for us, this Christmas has been one of the worst for TV that we can ever remember – we’ve struggled to find any more than just a few great Christmas films or new Christmas specials.

So how do you rate this year’s Christmas TV?

They say having a child changes everything – I personally cannot comment on that as I don’t have any children, however I have seen how a child has changed the lives of family and friends when they have had children. They tell me that no matter how much you prepare for becoming a parent, you’re never fully prepared, as you don’t get an instruction manual with your child when they are born.

The birth of a child is the start of a new life not just for the child but for the parents as they adapt to having a new addition to their family. Just as the birth of a child is the start of a new life for the parents, so the birth of Jesus all those years ago, offered us the chance of a new life in Christ.

As we near the end of 2018, and look forward to the start of a new year, take advantage of Christ’s offer of new life by giving your heart to God today.

O Come Be Born Again by Jennifer Martin

Baby born in Bethlehem
Come be born in me again
Since You don’t mind dirty stables
Here’s my heart not fit or able
To receive such majesty
Still, You humbly come to me

Chosen One who chose to be
Suff’ring Savior, Servant King
Since You don’t despise the broken
Here’s my life laid bare and open
To receive Your mercy
As Your Spirit calls to me

All who struggle, all who sin
Come and become born again
Come and lay your heavy burdens
At the cross where all’s forgiven
At His feet new life begins
Come, O sinner, enter in

We’re now a couple of days after Christmas but has the spirit and excitement of Christmas worn off yet?

Maybe you’ve had to go back to work today, so Christmas already seems an eternity ago. Maybe you’ve received great presents, eaten far too much, stayed up really late so are still catching up on sleep?

We should however be celebrating Jesus 364 days a year, so it really doesn’t matter if it’s two days, three days or three hundred days since Christmas Day, as because of Jesus, Christmas is actually part of every day of the year.