After Pastor Vicky's amazing, motivating and personally convicting message Christmas Eve and her most recent sermon series "Best Gift Ever", I thought I would re-post my Christmas blog from last year. It was appropriate then, is now and will be in the future. And if you didn't hear Pastor Vicky's Christmas Eve message, or want to again, it's on our church web site. You can also view it on YouTube, just search iFireGirard on YouTube.
As Christmas gets closer and closer, stress levels for many get higher and higher. The list of things that stress people out at this time of the year are mind boggling, therefore, I am not about to list them because our minds tend to get "boggled" enough just with every day stuff. However, I am going to touch on one of the "biggies" and that is, what in the world am I going to buy for _____________? You fill in the person's name.
Well, I am going to relieve some of that holiday stress and give your bank account a break all at the same time. I have the perfect gift to give someone this year and it's extremely inexpensive. Sit down and write a letter to someone that has played an important part in shaping any aspect of your life. Maybe it's someone that influenced you to succeed in your chosen profession. Maybe it's someone that turned your life around when you were younger and made you realize you were special, you did matter and you could do anything. It might be your parents, or your significant other, or even that person who caused you to truly see the light and opened up your eyes to all that God and Jesus want to give to you. It could be anyone and be pertinent to anything in your life.
I am positive that almost everyone of you already has someone in mind as you read this. This is a practice I started a few years ago and though it is most definitely a work in process, I continue to try to improve. In fact, when I spoke in church a few weeks ago, that was sort of a little thank you letter to so many of you in the church that helped bring me to where I am today in my faith. Except I didn't get to send it to you, I had to read it out loud. Send yours for now and just trust me on that.
I'm going to tell you a short (hopefully) story and in doing so, it will end up being one of my letters to someone. As I wrote this, I started thinking about the many who brought me along in my faith, well maybe brought isn't the correct word, it was more like pulled, dragged and pushed. It's easy to remember those most recent, especially as I get older and my memory gets worse by the minute. What I really did was look back.
I thought of my Mom first, then my sisters, followed up by my upbringing in the Catholic church, but when I got into my late teens and early 20's, I started drifting away, even though I still attended church, which was really about all I did. I could honestly say that at times, I walked around with a little chip on my shoulder and had that "the whole world has it out for me" mentality. I wasn't always like that, but definitely had my days. I could be a little bit of a hard?ss (hope I can sort of say that word in a church blog). Around that time is when I met Wendy. Always happy, never in a bad mood and pretty much liked everyone. As we started dating and into our married life, she corrected me often, as a "good wife" does. Many of the things she let up on, as did I with her, as we began to figure each other out, but one thing she never let up on was those times when I acted like a tough guy, or a hard?ss, or give it any name you want.
She was relentless, always telling me I was wrong when I acted like that, even though I didn't think I was and continually doing it until one day I must have finally heard her. That is when I started to change. And as I write this, I now realize that she was the one!!!! The one who really softened up my hardened heart The one who did the prep work. The one who got me ready for that next step. It's exactly what we as Christians are supposed to do. When you see that opportunity. When you hear that call, you have to respond. We have to be always on the ready. We don't know when that opportunity may come, but if we aren't ready, we'll miss it.
In life, there will be some who are behind us and some who are ahead of us. Wendy didn't leave me behind, she reached back and pulled me ahead with her until I figured it out and readied me for that next step in my walk. So there's my story and my first letter. I can honestly say that Wendy has never heard that and won't until she reads this post.
So there you go. You now know something bad and good about me and I also gave you an idea of how this letter thing works. Don't wait until tomorrow, or next week, or after Christmas, do it now. I promise you that you won't regret it and the person that will receive the letter will be blessed. It's the season of celebrating the greatest gift any of us will ever receive, Jesus!! And I can't think of a better way of doing so than to reach out to someone and tell them how much they mean to you and how thankful you are to have them in your life.
I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and the most spiritually prosperous New Years ever!!
Connect with Pastor Vicky, Dave DiBernardi, Sally Wagner, Meghan DeGregory and Shane Russo as they share what God is doing in our lives and what we are learning as we grow.