Am I the only one amazed that it is almost Christmas?! Each December, I find myself in awe of how quickly the current year has flown. As an avid fan of the Back to the Future Trilogy, I used to think 2015 would never get here! Not only did it come, but it is already gone… and 2016 is almost behind us as well. Some days, I wake up and wonder if the last decade was just a dream. Am I still in my twenties? Have I honestly been married more than eleven years? Where did all that time go?
It seems like each passing year moves a little faster than the previous one. Kindergarten felt like the longest year of my life. “Will Summer ever come?!” The calendar would crawl to Halloween. Then, it would crawl to Thanksgiving (and a three-day school week). Finally, the Christmas season would arrive. I used to exclaim, “Dad, today is the day before the day before the day before Christmas Eve!” Waiting for birthdays was the hardest. “If I could just be a little bit older, I could…”
Now that I am well into my thirties, I am slamming on the imaginary time brake. “Stop! The ride is getting increasingly faster – and I am getting dizzy!” I think back to my teenage years and they seem like yesterday; and, then I soberly realize I have lived the lives of two teenagers. Life is not as long as it seemed when I was a wide-eyed child. We only have a whisper of time to make our lives count. What have you done or experienced that matters? What eternal aspirations do you carry? What mark do you want to leave on this world?
As C.T. Studd’s convicting poem states: “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Who Am I Living For Today?
Each day we are given a subtle choice to either live for ourselves or live for someone else. On those days, when the heaviness of life tries to overtake me, I sometimes stop and question my actions and motivations. “Who am I looking out for today?” Typically, the answer is, “Myself; I am looking out for number one.” Taking care of Heather has been my primary goal in life more times than I care to admit. I trade precious time for “self-fulfillment” that leaves me feeling anything but fulfilled. Those Hulu binges are fun, but what do I have to show for them in the end? Those large bags of Skittles were tasty, but now they are gone, and they took a chunk of my health with them.
Constant self-focus leads to emptiness, even when we strive towards productive ends such as building businesses, exercising, or rockin’ straight A’s. Maybe we feel let down because we were created to worship God and not ourselves. There is nothing wrong with growing a business, but what is our motivation for doing so? Exercise is good, but are we striving for health or do we want to draw attention to our chiseled bodies? Working hard in school is commendable, but are we learning so we can benefit society or are we striving towards high marks so we can revel in our successes? I have approached work, exercise, school, and even ministry from a selfish vantage point, and when I did, each “accomplishment” left me drained and dry.
As God often does with His children, He sent our family a wake-up call this past September. While I was out of town visiting my parents, Eric texted me that he was experiencing a sharp pain in his leg. A few days later, his leg looked red and irritated. A few days after that, he was in the hospital having surgery. A few days following his surgery, they took him down for another surgery. What was happening?! Everything was fine one minute and then life changed… in an instant. Seasons such as these have a way of highlighting what matters and what does not.
Though the experience was exhausting, physically and emotionally, something truly beautiful happened. People came out of the woodwork to shower us with support and prayers. Each day, I received encouraging texts. Facebook filled up with messages of hope and prayer. Members of our church stopped by and precious friends offered to bring over food or anything else we needed. Knowing we had a village of prayer warriors interceding for us gave us such comfort. Those gestures of support were priceless to us.
Sending notes of encouragement, visiting someone in grief, or providing a listening ear may feel like a small contribution, but these gestures add up and can change the course of a person’s life. I cannot imagine going through such a trial without support. Though it was not a pleasant life event, Eric and I were thankful to experience God’s love in tangible ways through His people. We had no idea how many blessings we would receive during this Year of Blessings!
The Final Giveaway Blessing of 2016 – and it is Big!!!
As I said before, I cannot believe this year is already drawing to a close! Two Thousand Sixteen, you have been the fastest year yet! We have enjoyed giving prizes to our readers this year, and we have one final giveaway on the horizon. We are closing out the year of blessings with a bang! If you and your significant other submit a 5-10 minute video sharing the story of how you blessed someone this year, you will be entered to win a free PAIR Test (a $198 value)!!! Simply make a video with your sweetheart (both parties must be present in the video) demonstrating how you were a blessing to someone this year, upload it to YouTube, and send us a link through our contact form. We will pick a winner and may even feature it on PreEngaged!
With Christmas less than two weeks away, we hope blessing ideas are percolating in your mind. There is no better time of year to love on people than Christmas. Christ was not preoccupied with His comfort during His time on Earth, and as His followers, His sacrifice compels us to humble ourselves and give until it hurts.
What special blessings will you pour out on the world this holiday season?