WASN’T THAT YESTERDAY?

I think something is wrong with my phone. The clock is all messed up. I have to figure out what is going on with my calendar because so many things just happened yesterday. Today, my wife and I are suppose to watch our youngest daughter graduate from elementary school. That can’t be…I just registered her for kindergarten yesterday, in fact, she just learned to walk and ride a bike. What in the world is going on? She’s nine, but getting ready to turn ten and yesterday we were celebrating her first birthday.

The camera is all ready and we are going to watch her receive some awards today, but I’m in such a state of confusion about this time warp. There is no way this can all be happening with everything we saw her do just yesterday. Did all of this really happen in just the blink of an eye? Did we really go from watching her writing abc’s to pre-algebra overnight? It seems like we just got though celebrating her staying inside the lines when she colors a picture. Another crazy thing that doesn’t make any sense is there will be two numbers on her birthday cake. That can’t be…I just bought the number two for her last birthday and that was yesterday.

If you read this, maybe you could help me understand what is happening. Perhaps you’re a parent and you’ve figured this out, because our baby girl is the last of five and I don’t how it can be the date my calendar says it is. I look at her fourth grade school picture and don’t understand. I just ordered her kindergarten pictures yesterday! Don’t get me wrong, she is a beautiful little girl, but when did she start fitting into those size clothes? The clothes my wife just bought her yesterday all had a T on them.

Well, I can’t just stay here and worry about how we got to this moment so fast, I don’t want to miss the present trying to figure out what happened to the past. Her mom and I will watch her accept her awards and even get to hear her sing. We will smile with all kinds of pride as that little brown haired, blue eyed girl scans the audience to make sure we can see her perform. As soon as she spots us, she will put on a great big smile, but we will smile even bigger as she performs her last kindergarten song…wait a minute, it’s her last fourth grade performance, kindergarten was yesterday.

We have seen four of our kids graduate from Andrew Jackson Elementary School. All the teaches know us by name and many of them have taught one of our kids. In fact, MaKendra’s teacher was also Brooklyn’s teacher a few years ago. Actually, I’m not sure that’s right. That was just yesterday. This is crazy!!! It will be an emotional day because MaKendra is the last of our kids. Once we walk out of the school today, we will never walk back in to take any of our kids to class. The calendar says we’ve spent the last ten years bringing our kids to that school, but how can that be? We just registered our first two there yesterday!

While I can’t figure out what all has happened to the years gone by, I guess the next thing that concerns me is what will things look like tomorrow? Cherish every single day because they fly by as fast as it takes you to browse through a photo album and then you too will be saying…. “Wasn’t that just Yesterday?”

BEFORE YOU TAKE DOWN THE TREE

Another Christmas season has come and gone and now it’s time to get ready for a new year. We’ve listened to all of our favorite Holiday tunes and watched all kinds of Christmas movies for several weeks. But now it’s time to get out all of those green, red and clear tote boxes and start the breaking down process and store everything until this time next year. WAIT! HOLD ON! I want to tell you something before you take down the Christmas tree. I know you’re anxious to pack everything up, but keep the lights shining on the tree for just another moment.

The Christmas season is such a special time of the year and as soon as the tree is taken down, it will all be over. So, before you do that, take a minute and remember some things about this year that were so wonderful.

Before you take it down, do you remember the day you put it up? What inspired you to get the tree out and start decorating? Maybe it was your child’s first Christmas and you couldn’t wait to see how they would react to all of the lights. If you’re like us, then one of your kids started bringing stuff out of the garage, without your knowledge, and just began to put it up. Oh it was a mess for a little while, but do you remember once it was finally complete and your house, no matter how big or small, looked like a beautiful Christmas village.

Before you take down the tree, don’t forget the look on the faces of everyone when they opened their gifts. That priceless smile and those eyes lighting up as your child screams…”THAT’S WHAT I WANTED”!!! They run and hug you and say “THANK YOU”!!! All of a sudden, nothing else matters. As parents start putting all of the wrapping paper in trash bags, the kids start putting on their new pajamas and start playing with everything they just opened. Nerf darts start flying through the air. The sound of war is coming from one of the bedrooms as your son is on a “Call Of Duty” and is part of the special “Black Ops”. While one kid is playing a new guitar, another one is putting those new hot curlers in her hair. Oh it’s quite a scene and whatever you do, cherish those memories.

Before you take down the tree, remember your kids are another year older and they may not ask for the same kind of presents next year. In fact, your son or daughter can change so much in just one year. You could be buying clothes this year and looking at a car for them next year. Hold on to the memories of who they are now, because it doesn’t last long enough. Store the memories and the year this Christmas season represents. Next year they will be taller, they will even sound different and for some, your baby boy or baby girl will be in college. What did you all do this past year? Where did you go on vacation? What was the birthday themes? These things are important to think about before you take down the tree.

Take some time to be thankful for the family members you still have in your life. A parent or grandparent can go through a lot of changes in just a year. As I’m writing this blog, I’m looking at our Christmas tree and remembering my grandmother, who has had a difficult year. Time and age is taking her mind, but I remember just a few months ago when she was herself and we had some great conversations. I’m not sure what this next year will bring, but I’m thankful for the memories I have of her this year.

My wife and I are so blessed to have wonderful parents that we are extremely close to. Although this has been a very challenging year for both sets, we have made some awesome memories together. I not only enjoy the memories I have with them, but some of my favorite ones are how much my kids love being around them. It makes me so happy to see how excited they get when they find out Nana and Papaw Dean or Mamaw Joyce and Papaw Spencer are coming to town. They’ve had a great year of memories with them this year.

Last, but not least, before you take down the tree, take a moment and remember how much emphasis is placed on Jesus during this season. Movies, songs and plays all promote His birth. During the Christmas season, it’s mentioned everyday. Isn’t it amazing how things go better when Jesus is at the center of everything? Maybe while you’re taking down your decorations, when you get to the nativity scene, pause for a moment and commit to telling this story over and over again throughout the next year. Don’t wait until you unpack a Christmas box to think about the birth of Jesus.

Oh, there is one more thing. If you suffered the loss of someone that you loved this past year, I’d like to remind you of something. When we celebrate Christmas, we’re not just celebrating the birth of Jesus, but we are celebrating His life, His death and His resurrection. The reason Jesus came was so He could save us from our sins and one day bring us to where He is. On Christmas we rejoice because He came to us, but there will come a day when we go to Him. Just imagine how incredible that day is going to be when we see our loved ones and we behold the Lamb of God that died for our sins. That’s right…go ahead and think about that for a moment, BEFORE YOU TAKE DOWN THE TREE.

SOMETHING WORTH FIGHTING FOR (ROUND 3)

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been writing about struggles that all married couples face. I have stated repeatedly, that for a marriage to be successful, you have to fight for it. I believe, next to our relationship with Jesus, there is no relationship more important than marriage. That’s why this blog series is called, “SOMETHING WORTH FIGHTING FOR”!!! With that being said, let’s get ready for round 3.

I had the privilege of going to an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC ) event this past week. They refer to it as Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). It is a full-contact combat sport that allows the use of both striking and grappling techniques, both standing and on the ground, from a variety of other combat sports and martial arts. Because of the variety of different fighting styles, it’s a very exciting and high energy sport. We were sitting very close to the ring and could hear every punch and kick. We could see the intensity on the faces of the fighters when they were on the mat fighting to win. We also witnessed different ones getting cut and bleeding. I wasn’t crazy about that part…lol. Nevertheless, it was an incredible night and one I’ll never forget.

As I was writing today, I couldn’t help but think about that night. Since my blog series is about fighting, I began to notice some interesting comparisons in what I saw then and what I see in some marriages today. I watched several fights for over six hours and honestly, the fighters that stood out to me, were the ones that had the strength to come back and win after being knocked down. It was the ones that were pinned against the cage or pressed against the mat in a hold that seemed impossible to get out of. In the UFC, when a fighter can’t get loose, he will do what’s called, “Tapping Out”. That’s when he takes one of his hands and starts tapping. That signals the referee and says, I’m out and can’t take anymore. The referee can also call the fight if he feels like one fighter isn’t able to fight back.

When you see a fighter down and everyone thinks it’s over, but then he or she somehow gathers enough strength to slip out of a hold and turn around and win…my friend, that’s someone that believes they have something worth fighting for. It doesn’t matter how many punches you can throw, the true test is how many you can take. How well a fighter can recover after making a mistake, says so much about their ability and character. Even the most talented make errors, but what makes them great is their desire to not give up. When a fighter refuses to surrender, they call that, “HAVING HEART”. The great ones have heart. They don’t sit out because of a set back, they actually stand out when it would be easier to give out.

It’s the same in a marriage. You don’t gage it by not making mistakes, but rather by how well you recover after an error is made. It doesn’t matter who you are, you are going to make a mistake. You are not perfect and the day will come when you will make a mistake. Your marriage will be pinned against the cage or pressed against the mat and it will be hard to see your way because of the hold your in. It’s in times like this that will determine if you have a good marriage or a great one. Sure, you could tap out and say I’m done. However, the real fighters don’t quit that easy. The ones with heart assess their situation and figure a way out, not a way to surrender. They’ve saved enough strength for a comeback. They combine strength and will, then make their move. All of a sudden, what seemed impossible starts to change. The one on the mat is now the one in control of the fight. Just seconds ago, what looked to be hopeless is now victorious. All because somebody realized they had “SOMETHING WORTH FIGHTING FOR”!!!

So what about you? Is your marriage on the ropes? Has a mistake been made? Are the financial struggles causing you and your spouse to want to give up? Are you facing something that you thought you would never have to deal with? If you’re not going through a difficult time, then the blog ended at the last paragraph, but if your marriage is in some incredible hold and you can’t seem to get free, you are who I want to encourage. Instead of surrendering and becoming another divorce statistic, why don’t you prepare for a comeback? I’m sure everyone watching thinks it’s about over, so why don’t you shock the crowd and show them how much heart you really have. I think you’ve got enough strength to turn this fight around. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but I am saying that great ones find a way to recover.

Here are some tips for preparing your comeback.

  • Make sure God is first in your life. (You cannot do this without Him).
  • Be faithful to church.
  • Seek council from someone that understands what is trying to defeat you.
  • Prepare for patience. (This problem didn’t happen overnight and it won’t end that soon either).
  • If someone made a mistake, understand that your spouse will need healing even after an apology.
  • Commit to not using words that cause a setback. (Make a list of digressive words and progressive words).
  • If you have children, make them aware that you are fighting for your family. (Don’t think they don’t feel the tension).
  • Make time for each other. (Hiding under a work load will not help the situation).
  • Remind each other daily that you believe your marriage is SOMETHING WORTH FIGHTING FOR!!!

If you have a comeback story, I would love for you to share it with me.

If your marriage is in need of prayer, I would love to hear from you too, so I could help pray for your marriage.

Email me at: denny@dennylivingston.com

SOMETHING WORTH FIGHTING FOR (ROUND 2)

I wrote a blog last week entitled, “SOMETHING WORTH FIGHTING FOR”. It was about marriage and family and how the only way it’s going to last is if we fight for what we have. I received a lot of response from that blog, so I decided to use the same title and continue to write some more things on this subject. Since last week I’ve heard stories of victory, but I’ve also heard the stories of defeat. Some are fighting, while others have decided to throw in the towel. Hopefully what I’m writing will help someone stand up and fight. Your marriage and family are worth fighting for.

When God created the first man and then made the woman for that man, He referred to her as Adam’s help meet. In other words, God gave that man talents and abilities to do many things, but he wouldn’t be able to do everything, so God gave him someone that would help him. It was important for them to know who they were individually, which in turn, would help them discover who they were together. Their united strength would come from their separate talents and abilities.

They were certainly opposite from each other, but that didn’t mean they looked at each other as opposition. God didn’t want them to be the same or look the same. The Creator designed them to be different. Their differences however, was not to make either one of them feel superior or more important than the other one. They were to recognize the contrast, but combine who they were to make one great marriage and family. That was the only way the two of them could become one.

As I council marriages and families, many times I find couples that see each others talents as competition. Instead of recognizing the importance of putting their abilities together, they choose to compete with one another for who is better at certain things. I’ve even seen husbands that were jealous of their wive’s talents as well as wives feeling the same way about their husbands. Instead of promoting and combining, they choose to compete and sometimes even intimidate each other with abilities. Each has be given specific gifts and also the potential of progressing and the enemy is using this to bring separation among so many marriages.

Your individual strengths are designed to make you better. It doesn’t make you less of a man or woman when you acknowledge that your spouse has certain talents that you do not have. In fact, I believe it will make you a much wiser man or woman. You cannot do everything and you’re not suppose to, the plan is for you to help each other become better together. However, you’ll never get there as long as you view one another as competition instead of completion.

Instead of me making a list of the different talents and gifts that men and women have, I want to issue a challenge. You spend some time writing down your spouse’s strengths and talents. What is it about them that makes them unique in what they do. Think of how you two are alike in many ways, but also how you are different in others. You see, I believe it is in the contrast where we discover incredible ability. You have to know who you are individually in order to develop an amazing combination. It’s important that you work on fusion, not confusion.

We weren’t made to compete with each other, we were made to complete each other. Our fight must be to work together, not fight every time we do work together. Know when it’s time for each one to take the lead. Recognize who should take care of the checkbook and who should make certain phone calls. Learn to compliment your differences. You’ll actually become better at what you do individually when you encourage one another’s talents. What God has joined together, don’t let competition pull apart.

Ok couples…let the fighting for your marriage begin!!!

SOMETHING WORTH FIGHTING FOR (ROUND 1)

I woke up this morning with several thoughts racing through my mind. One of the things that kept coming to me was, there are some things in life that are worth fighting for. In fact, there are some things that will require a fight if you’re going to keep it. I can name a few, but I would like to focus on one very important subject that demands our attention and action. I’m talking about marriage and the fight to keep families together.

We have been told that love is a verb, which means it shows action. For a marriage to last, husbands and wives must fight to keep their marriage active. Too many times, in a marriage, couples get busy with making a living and fail to see that their marriage is struggling to survive. You may not feel like talking when you get home from work, but that’s when you have to fight for your marriage and talk anyway. Life will drain you and leave you exhausted, but that’s when the true warriors show up and fight for what matters most.

With our technology today, there is no reason you can’t be reminded to text something kind to one another throughout the day. Tell Siri this morning, “Siri, remind me at 1:00 to text me wife that I love her”. She will say, “Ok, I’ll remind you” and your wife will say, “Awe, I love you too”. Come on guys, how difficult is that? I’m talking about fighting for the most important relationship on earth, next to serving Jesus Christ. You’d be amazed at the small things that can make such a big difference in your marriage.

Fighting for our love also means we find what makes each other happy. One of my favorite books on marriage is “The 5 Love Languages” by Dr Gary Chapman. In this book, Dr Chapman explains that there are five major things that make all of us feel loved. We don’t all speak the same love language. It’s important that we learn each others language, so we can make each other feel loved. When a spouse doesn’t feel loved, after a while, it becomes very difficult to show love. When love becomes inactive and the relationship is treated more like a job, it doesn’t take long for things to start falling apart. I wish I had time to talk more about this, but just know it’s imperative that you love each other and also fight to make sure both of you feel loved.

You have to fight temptation. This is for men and women. I looked up some statistics this morning to find out who is more likely to cheat in a marriage. Is it men? Is it women? I found the results very interesting. It’s pretty well even, although in the past, it’s been mainly men. However, with women climbing the corporate ladder and being so successful, they are not as dependent on a man, so the numbers are more even now. This means both are going to have to fight against temptation, because you are equally a target.

You’re not fighting when your flirting with someone other than your spouse.
You’re not fighting when you’re visiting pornographic websites.
You’re not fighting when you’re responding to inappropriate texts.
You’re not fighting when you’re dressing immodest…intentionally.
You’re not fighting when you’re looking at the backside of the opposite sex as they walk by.

There are a lot more things I could say, but I think you understand what I’m talking about. It’s not easy and you are both going to be targeted by the enemy constantly. We live in a wicked world and things are getting worse daily. Adultery has now become something very common. The world looks at it as something that is just going to happen. I’ve even heard some people say that it was healthy for their marriage. Let me make this perfectly clear. An affair only happens when someone stops fighting for their marriage. Real men love their wives and fight with everything in them to stand and stay by their side. Strong women love their husbands and remain true to them and the vows they spoke to each other on their wedding day.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that mistakes happen and sometimes good people mess up. None of us are perfect, but I’m sure, the marriages that have survived these kind of setbacks will admit, someone was weak and gave in to temptation. If you’re reading this and your marriage has gone through a trying time, let me say this to you, “FORGIVE, FORGET AND FIGHT”. If you decide to stay together and work on your marriage, those three things are essential. It’s hard to fight for the future if your spouse keeps throwing up your past. You can’t move forward focusing on the mistakes of the past. I wish I had time to dwell more on this subject.

I don’t have time to cover them all, but one more way of fighting for your marriage is in self-evaluation. Have you looked at yourself to see if you need to make any improvements? We tend to play the blame game, but the truth is, fighting sometimes requires taking a good look at yourself. You might ask, how do I evaluate my self as a husband or wife? One of the ways you can do this is read more books on the subject of marriage. Since men and women are nothing alike, it’s important that we learn more about the sexy, strange creature we married and now are suppose to live with until the day we die.

As you learn more about your spouse, you may actually discover more about how you need to improve. I would suggest creating a check-list for yourself. Ask yourself the difficult questions. Are you meeting the needs of your spouse? If you’re going to fight for your marriage, are you willing to become a better husband or wife? What does she need that I’m not giving her right now? What is he wanting that I’ve not been providing? The list goes on and on, but I promise that self-evaluation and honesty will make a major difference in your marriage.

I’m not able to write everything that I want to say about this subject in one blog, but I’m going to come back to it from time to time. I just feel so strongly about making couples aware of how important it is for them to fight for their marriage. For starters, after you read this blog, schedule a date night with your spouse. Go somewhere nice and dress for the occasion. Guys, make sure you wow her like you did when you first got together. Ladies, you know we are pretty simple, so it won’t take much to make his mouth water. Enjoy the night and reschedule another date night asap.

Alright couples, let the fighting for your marriage begin!!!

SHE STANDS BESIDE ME

Today, my oldest daughter, Brittany LeAnn Potter, turns 25. I can still remember every detail about the day she came into this world and the incredible joy she brought into our lives. She was the only grandchild for several years and everyone tried to claim her as their little girl. “She’s Papaw Spencer’s girl”…”She’s Mamaw Joyce’s girl”…”She’s Nana’s girl”…”She’s Papaw Dean’s girl”…”She’s Mama’s girl”. The argument went on, but since I’m writing this, “She’s a Daddy’s Girl”!!!
The truth is, Brittany never made a difference in how she felt about anyone. She just made you feel like she was your girl. Even at 25, she’s still one of the sweetest people you will ever meet.

There are so many things that I can write about her this morning, because she is so amazingly talented, but I’m going to choose one thing that means so much to me. As many of you know, Brittany is an incredible singer, musician and song writer. Her road to blessings and favor hasn’t even really begun yet, but it’s coming.

For several years now, Brittany has played the guitar and sang in our church beside me on stage. Her Mother stands on the other. We never planned this, but it’s just been how it is for some time now. She told me she feels more comfortable in our worship set knowing she’s next to me. When we moved into our new building, I told her she could move anywhere she wanted to because we had a lot more room on stage now. She’s probably as close to me now as she was in the old building where everything was so small and tight.

Every service, when I hear her play and sing, I couldn’t be more proud. She loves what she does and she is completely sold out to the work of God. All of those things make a Dad feel great, but where she stands on stage is where she’s always stood….. with me…..Right beside me. I can always count on her to be standing there with me. Not just in a worship song, but also in the rhythm of life. No matter where life has taken our family, I look to my right and she’s standing there.

I’ve shared the stage of life and ministry with a lot of people in the last several years and many of them have come and gone, but Brittany still stands beside me. We play the fast and the slow songs and she stands right with me. It doesn’t matter if she knows the song or needs me to teach it to her, she stands right beside me. Don’t get me wrong, I play and sing for the Lord, but nothing makes me and her mother happier than to know she’s standing with us.

There are a lot of things a child can do to show how much they love their parents, but for me, my little girl standing beside me all these years means everything to me. For some people, the price of loyalty is too high to pay, but not for Brittany. Her love and support in all the storms we’ve gone through for the last few years has been amazing. No matter how hard the wind is blowing, she’s standing beside me. Wherever the voice of God calls us, she’s standing beside me. It doesn’t matter if it’s 11:05 on Sunday morning or a valley I just entered…I look to my right and…she stands beside me.

Happy Birthday baby girl and thank you for not just being an awesome daughter, but for always standing beside me.

Dad

JUST IN TIME

Nine years ago today I was getting ready to preach an anniversary service in Detroit, Michigan when my wife called and said, “Denny, my water just broke”!!! She was in Bristol and I was in Detroit. I had never missed the birth of any of my kids, but to make it home for this one, was going to be challenge. Alonna’s parents took her to the hospital, while my Dad began calling airlines to see about getting me a flight home asap.

Alonna was the only delivering mother in that small hospital in Johnson City, TN that day. She explained to the doctor that I was on my way and wanted to try her best to wait until I got there to birth our newest baby. The doctor and the nurses did their part to try and delay as long as they possibly could.

After hours of waiting on standby, I finally got a flight out of Detroit and for 2 1/2 hours in the air, I had no idea if the baby had been born. As soon as I landed I called, and Alonna informed me that she had not delivered the baby yet but that it could happen at any moment!!! She had been been fully dilated to 10 for three hours waiting to push and I was still 3o minutes from the hospital and obviously every minute was counting.

I didn’t even wait for my luggage…I ran out of the airport doors and two of my friends were waiting for me with the door of the car open ready for me to board my next flight…LOL!!! Off we went to the hospital. I stayed on the phone so I could monitor what was going, just in case I missed it, I could at least hear the first cry of my little girl.

We arrived at the hospital and it was such an amazing scene. The entire hospital staff was aware of what was going on and nurses were standing outside to usher me in. Not only were they on the outside, but they were lined down the hallway to Alonna’s room, clapping cheering for me as ran to where she was. When I walked in the room, everything was ready for the delivery. A nurse was standing there with scrubs in her hands, open and ready for me to just put my arms in. She said, “WASH AND HURRY”… and I did exactly that!!!

Alonna began pushing…I started cheering her on…the nurses guided her and the doctor…well, you know what he did. I walked in the room at 4:15 pm and MaKendra LeNae Livingston was born at 4:21 pm. It was the most incredible 6 minutes of our lives and I made it just in time!!!

Alonna gave birth to the most beautiful, blue eyed, brown haired baby girl. She was perfect, but she wasn’t planned…LOL! MaKendra was now our 6th child. One was is with the Lord in Heaven, but He gave us 5 to keep us busy and maybe to even giggle at from time to time. They are all unique, but MaKendra’s arrival is the most exciting, but why not, she still keeps us on our toes and in a hurry.

She’s our little softball star and has a smile that will light up a room. She’s the youngest and is still at the age where where she will get on our laps and fall asleep. It won’t be much longer until she will be too big for that and next year she will hit double digits…but until then I will hold her and hold on to her as long as I can.

Mom and I are getting ready to do our yearly tradition, as we do with all of our kids on their birthday. We will wake her up by singing Happy Birthday!!! She will begin rubbing her big blue eyes as she starts waking up and then smile that smile that we love so much. Then we’ll all stand in line to give her a big hug and say “HAPPY BIRTHDAY”!!! This day will be filled with fun and excitement as we celebrate 9 years with MaKendra, AKA Kiki!!!

THIS CHRISTMAS

So, how is your Christmas going this year? Depending on what time you’re reading this blog, you’re either getting ready to eat with your family or you’ve already feasted and you have that completely full feeling. The kids have probably opened their gifts and you’re helping put together all kinds of toys and trying to figure out what batteries go with which devices. From babies to remote control vehicles, it’s that happy time of the year that the kids have been counting down the days for.

Not to bring a sad note to this Holiday, but for many of us we have those moments where we can’t help but remember and miss some amazing people that were in our lives, but have gone home to be with Jesus. Not that it gets any easier, but for many of us, we’ve gotten use to their memory instead of their presence. We recognize the look on each others face when something happens that causes us to remember something they would say or do. We miss the smile, the laughing and the incredible fun times we use to share.

For many people, this will be their first Christmas without their loved one or friend. I want you to know that our family knows how you feel. I remember the first Holiday after losing our first loved one. I didn’t think Christmas would ever be the same. Even now, there are some Christmas songs that make me sad and cause me to miss them. For you, it may be the first Christmas without that special someone. Everything you see and do will remind you of them. You’ve probably been dreading this Holiday because you weren’t sure how you would handle it. Believe me, you’ll get through it.

Take some time and enjoy the memories, but when you’re done, focus on the people that are still in your life. Your friend or loved one wouldn’t want you to close yourself off from other people in your life. They would want you to keep laughing and enjoying your family. They wouldn’t want you to change who you are just because they’re not with you anymore. Don’t feel guilty for laughing and having fun. Make their memory a part of your party. Keep them here in spirit and laugh about things that you know would make them laugh.

There is one last thing I want share with you. Paul spoke about this subject and this is what he said.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 (The Message Version)

And regarding the question, friends, that has come up about what happens to those already dead and buried, we don’t want you in the dark any longer. First off, you must not carry on over them like people who have nothing to look forward to, as if the grave were the last word. Since Jesus died and broke loose from the grave, God will most certainly bring back to life those who died in Jesus.

My friends, it’s alright to cry, just know how to cry. That may sound crazy to you, but you have to understand that when a Christian cries, it’s different. It’s not a hopeless cry because we will see them again. It’s a cry that says, “I miss you being here with me” and that’s ok. Just don’t forget, we don’t cry like others that have no hope. We will be reunited with our friends and loved ones again. Can you just imagine Christmas in Heaven? The lights will be amazing, the decorations will be incredible and the songs will be GLORIOUS!!! We will be with all of our family and most of all, Jesus will be there. I can’t even describe how splendorous it’s going to be.

Oh yeah, there’s one thing I forgot to tell you about. THERE ARE NO TEARS ALLOWED!!! 😉

Merry Christmas.

IT’S BEGINNING TO SOUND A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS

Well, we’re packing up for our Christmas Vacation in Michigan to be with our family. I’m sure many of you are doing the same thing or you’re getting ready to. Since we’ll be away from home on Christmas, we decided to open our gifts from each other tonight. Home Alone 2 is playing, while my wife is cooking in the kitchen. The kids have memorized almost word of this movie and they keep asking me, “Can we please open our gifts now”? Sorry to give you a play by play, but it’s just what we do.

So what do you all do? What movies do you watch? What’s your favorite Christmas album? What’s the candy you most look forward to eating? Come on now, “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year.” It may be a “Silent Night,” but “Joy To The World”, our Lord has come and “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

Jesus birth is what all of this is about. He came to save us and we rejoice because of that. I also see that He made sure He wasn’t alone when He came this earth. He could have chosen a lot of places to have been born and with all kinds of people. However, this uncommon King chose to be born into a common family. Yes salvation was in the manger, but a family is what was gathered around Him. His purpose was not just to save us, but also to teach us the value of family.

As you enjoy the season, I encourage you to reflect on Jesus’ birth, but also be reminded that He thought family was important enough for it to be a part of every aspect of His life. His mother birthed Him and raised Him. She was with Him at His death, His resurrection and His ascension. Family followed the Master every step of the way. I think He wanted us to know how important family really is.

Enjoy the Season with your family.