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Where Jesus Lives

“Who lives in a stable?”

“Jesus lives in the stable!”

At first I laughed at that answer my four-year-old sister gave during my impromptu lesson on animals and their habitats. But her answer kept coming back to me. Jesus lives in the stable. Was that the only place she saw Jesus come alive for me?

Published in Christmas

Do for One

Sometimes I feel paralyzed by all the suffering in the world. There’s simply no way I could make a dent in all the hunger, sickness, poverty, depression, oppression, loneliness, and death. When you look at the brokenness in its entirety, all you see is desolation.

Published in Christmas

Simple Joys

I was thinking about my mom on her birthday, and realized that there was something very special about my childhood—the times we spent together. More specifically, I was thinking about the Christmases when I was small. The thing that made each memory special wasn’t the number or value of the gifts we received or the Christmas parties we attended. Rather, it was the simple things.

Published in Christmas Experiences

The Right Price

I grew up in Communist Romania, where there was a state ban on religion, so “finding Christmas” wasn’t easy.

“Don’t use the word ‘Christmas’ at school or with people you don’t know,” I remember being told when I turned school age. We used the word at home because some members of my extended family were old enough to have grown up before the ban and still secretly kept the holiday. With everyone else, the tree was to be called “the New Year tree.” Christmas was “the winter holiday.” If we children received gifts, there was no mention of Christmas attached.

Published in Christmas Experiences

Alone at Christmas?

Over the years, Christmas has taken on different meanings for me. When I was a young child, it meant a special family holiday, the Christmas story at Sunday school, walking home in the snow, a brown paper bag with a big Jaffa orange, whole walnuts to crack, and a new book to read.

Published in Christmas Experiences

The Request

It was my first Christmas in Taipei, Taiwan, when I heard the Christmas classic “Silent Night” sung in Chinese for the first time. It made a special impression, and I remember thinking that I had to learn the words. The first line was fairly easy—after all, half of it is the song title—but beyond that it got harder.

Published in Christmas Experiences

The Way Home

It was wintertime and I had just arrived in the state of Goa, the former Portuguese colony on the southwest coast of India. I was a long way from my home country of Brazil, but right away I made friends with a young mixed-faith couple—he was Catholic and she was Hindu—whose marriage had been rejected by both their families. They had opened a small restaurant right on one of the beaches popular with backpack tourists, where they let us sleep at night.

Published in Christmas Experiences

The Silver Lining

I remember my mother often reminding us children to “look on the bright side” and “be thankful for the little things.” If we’d complain about the hot weather in mid-June, she’d point out, “At least we can go swimming, right?” If we’d complain about not having dessert one night, she’d ask, “Doesn’t that make you thankful for the nights we do have dessert?” She tried to teach us to take every seemingly “bad” or “sad” situation we faced and look for something that we could appreciate or be happy about. She called this concept “looking for the silver lining.”

Published in Personal Experiences

Ephemeral Beauty

A friend of mine mentioned how he often feels melancholy after experiencing something beautiful. I wasn’t sure what he was talking about. It wasn’t until I started to recall my feelings at the end of a magnificent sunset, a fantastic day, or a moving performance that I realized how often I feel the same.

Published in Life

The Music of Our Life

If you asked me how I feel about music, I’d say I’m an enthusiast. My friends might say a fanatic, but I just tune them out.

There’s something inexplicable about music that moves our hearts and stirs our souls. Powerful lyrics can be just the right thing to lift our mood and cheer us up, and I personally owe many happy moments to inspired songwriters.

Published in Life
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