Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Anticipating Christmas

Merry Christmas, Seekerville! 

I love that we are celebrating this season of Advent, because Advent is about anticipation. Anticipating the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. So while I had planned to talk about some of my favorite Christmas traditions, I decided to pause on this instead.

Have you ever wondered why some radio stations start playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving? Or why Hallmark begins airing holiday movies before Halloween?

Some would say it’s all about sales and money, but I prefer to think of it as building the anticipation. When I watch those Christmas movies on October 29th, I’m chomping at the bit to pull out the tinsel and twinkling lights. Now granted, not everyone is going to feel that way. There are those who actually dread Christmas for a variety of reasons. Some will be facing their first holiday season without a precious loved one. Others stress over gifts and money or complain that Christmas has become too commercial.

So where’s the joy?

Joy is more than a feeling. Joy is a choice. Whether you have plenty or little, you can choose to be joyful. You can be surrounded by loved ones or all alone and still choose joy.

Why?


Because Jesus is our joy. He has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us. Jesus, the King of kings, born in a humble stable. Today, His birthday is the biggest celebration of the year. That alone should bring us joy.

So if you find yourself feeling stressed out this holiday season, stop and remember the reason for the season. Then choose joy. 

I’d love to send you a little bit of Christmas cheer. So I’m giving one lucky commenter a holiday prize package containing a handcrafted ornament, my favorite holiday scent packet and a daily devotional celebrating the season of Advent.

Before I go, though, I have one other thing I’d like to share with all of you. The cover for my April release, Her Colorado Cowboy, hot off the presses.



Lassoing the single mom’s heart…
A
Rocky Mountain Heroes story

Socialite Lily Davis agrees to take her children riding…despite her fear of horses. But now widowed cowboy Noah Stephens is determined to help her get comfortable in the saddle. And, at her children’s insistence, Lily finds herself promoting his rodeo school. As Noah and Lily work together, will Noah continue to shield his heart…or can they discover a love that conquers both their fears?
I love it. My first cowboy cover. He’s a handsome cowboy, indeed.

Okay, now it’s your turn. Do you anticipate Christmas? Do you look at the coming holiday season with joy or dread? Most of all, I’d like to know what’s your favorite part of Christmas? What brings you joy?





Three-time Carol Award nominee, Mindy Obenhaus, writes contemporary romance for Love Inspired Books. She’s passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren at her Texas ranch. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com








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56 comments:

  1. Good morning, Mindy! I like that thought: CHOOSE JOY. Way too often we accept whatever thought or feeling pops into our head and "own" it by default, not by choice. Thank you for that beautiful reminder during this advent season.

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    1. You're welcome, Glynna. And you are so right. We're prone to letting one piddly thought ruin our day. That when we have to take that thought captive, give it to Jesus and choose joy instead. It's not always easy, but when we say we're going to choose joy, our perspective changes. And that's usually for the better.

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    2. Mindy, this is deep and so needed. This year I'm making a conscious decision to separate "Christmas" and "Advent." Some of it's been done for me, i.e. my family circle has shrunk and nobody really needs anything, so I'm gradually moving away from the "present" bit. This year I'm asking Him to do a work in me instead.

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    3. Kathy, I pray He will do a mighty work in you. Merry Christmas!

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  2. I love Advent/Christmas. Yes, sometimes there's stress, and things with a young family rarely end up "picture perfect" no matter how much you plan in advance, but I love it.

    My favorites are seeing Christmas through my children's eyes. The lights as we drive along the streets, the mystery & magic of Santa, the joy & excitement of "discovering" their ornaments again while decorating the tree, reading about the birth of Jesus in our Advent book...it keeps the whole season fresh & new & in perspective for me.

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    1. Oh, Beth, I hear exactly what you're saying about seeing Christmas through your children's eyes. Their wonder is something special, all right. I think that stirs something in us adults that makes us recall fond memories or want to dig deeper into the true meaning of Christmas. And the true meaning of Christmas is one that shouldn't be forgotten.

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    2. Beth, it IS more fun with children, isn't it? Even when you're vacuuming up glitter or cupcake sprinkles. Christmas wasn't supposed to be neat.

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    3. Beth, I love how kids see the holiday!

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  3. Good morning, Mindy! Joy does tend to become elusive during the holiday season, doesn't it? Thank you for the reminder of WHY the season exists.

    I'm with you in the early Hallmark movie corner. I look forward to new movies and squeal with joy over so many of the old ones - like reuniting with old friends.

    Gorgeous cover, Mindy! Can't wait for the book release!

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    1. Thank you, Audra. I love this story, so I can't wait for it either. And feel the exact same way about those Hallmark movies. Hubby is always asking, "Have we seen this one before?" To which I usually say, "Yes, but I don't care." ;-)

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    2. They run them on a loop. I like the ones with Candice Cameron Bure. Just saw the one where she plays identical twins.

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  4. Good Morning, Mindy! Thank you for the timely post! YES! We must CHOOSE Joy, CHOOSE to live in a manner that reflects the Kingdom of Light! May we CHOOSE wisely!

    Blessings!

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    1. Caryl, life is full of choices, isn't it? Why ruin this blessed season by being grumpy when we can turn our eyes toward Jesus, remember the real reason for the season and be joyous, no matter what our circumstances.

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  5. Life is full of choices, isnt it. I love Christmas, what it means for us as believers. But it is a hard time too when it comes to relatinships with extended family. I love teasing my kids about their presents when they start asking ( like what about a dead fish that smells worse than your stinky socks..). They are what makes the anticipation even more exciting. I love time with my husband and kids around the Christmas tree. (Lee-Ann B)

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    1. Ah, LeeAnn, teasing the kids about their presents... One year my oldest daughter peeked at all of her presents. I knew she'd done it. And she still got them, except I had rewrapped all of them with layers and layers of duck tape before adding that final wrapping. It took her FOREVER to open those gifts. While we all watched and chuckled, of course. The brat is now 35 and admits it was a bummer waking up Christmas morning, knowing everything she was getting. The mystery was gone and that's half the fun.

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  6. Mindy, sometimes, it's our perspective, isn't it? We can get frustrated, stressed-out, or we can choose to embrace joy in the season. I have struggled for years with trying to do too much. I would be exhausted come Christmas morning because I'd stayed up late so many nights and worked on things. This year, I'm trying to find stillness in each day. I've said no to a couple or our normal activities, and I'm giving myself time (permission) to write some when my kids are at school.

    My favorite part of Christmas is spending it with my family, both immediate and extended. I'm trying, this year, to slow down on the activities and commitments so I can be a more patient, joy-filled mama to my sons and a kinder, happier wife for my husband. :)

    Your book sounds SOOO good! And that cover? Hubba-hubba. :)

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    1. Ooo...we have a hubba-hubba! I'll take it, Jeanne.

      It sounds like you are taking a more gentle approach to Christmas this year. Just keep the word JOY in the forefront of your mind. When you're shopping, wrapping presents, baking... It especially helps when we're shopping. People can get so grumpy this time of year. I was at Walmart the other day and there were two elderly ladies in front of me. Everything they did was in slow motion, but I wasn't in a rush, so I simply waited while people behind me took off for other cashiers. Well, the cashier in my lane was a young man maybe all of 18 years old. And I watched him as he worked with each of those ladies. He didn't get frustrated. He was so patient and graciously came out from behind the counter to put their bags in their carts instead of leaving them for these women to take care of themselves. I actually teared up watching him. When it was finally my turn, I praised him for a job well done and let him know that his patience and cheerful attitude had not gone unnoticed. Of course, he simply shrugged and said, "It was no big deal." But I can guarantee you, it was a big deal to those two ladies. And it blessed me, too.

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    2. Mindy, what a great story. I love millennials! They're clueless about so many things, but they have huge hearts.

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    3. Jeanne, your plan sounds great. God never meant for us to get stressed about Christmas. We do that ourselves.

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    4. Kathy, this young man certainly did.

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    5. Mindy, what a beautiful story! I love seeing young people show kindness to those who are older. Touches my heart every single time. And Kaybee, they are clueless, but weren't we too at that age? And they doooo have big hearts. :)

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  7. I love anticipating Christmas! It's the only holiday we can celebrate for longer than a month! We began a family tradition of putting up the Christmas tree on Election day here in the US. That gives me plenty of time to decorate and shop before Thanksgiving, and then I can spend more time pondering Advent and not stressing as much.

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    1. What a great idea, Lila. Wonder if my family would let me get away with putting the tree up that early? At least we had more time between Thanksgiving and Dec. 1 this year to accomplish things so we could sit back, enjoy Advent and truly anticipate.

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  8. This year I've been consciously separating "Christmas" and "Advent." Part of it is necessity, I'm getting older, my family circle has shrunk and nobody needs anything, so the "giving" part is not what it used to be. And as I face retirement and a smaller income, that's fine. Part of it is the deepening divide between the "secular" Christmas and the "Christian" Christmas, which is not going to be solved by a birthday cake for Jesus. The secular Christmas isn't all bad, but it can get really out of hand, going from "Elf" to "Crappy the Christmas Dog," a toy I once saw in a convenience store. Our culture takes everything and runs with it, and we don't always know where we're going. This year I made a conscious decision to "do" Advent. I'm working my church's Advent devotional book and asking God to do a work in me, to prepare me not only for His first coming but His second. Looking within and not liking everything I find, but it doesn't have to stay that way.
    Back later,
    Kaybee
    Looking within this December

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  9. My favorite part of Christmas is when my boys come home and laugh at the silly things they pull out of their stockings. My church does a lovely advent observance with candles and meaningful readings. This year my husband and I will light the Christmas Eve candle during the church service!

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    1. Cindy, how wonderful to be part of the Christmas Eve service!

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    2. Cindy, last year my husband and I decided that even though our boys are now adults (unmarried), they still need toys. Those silly things have a way of bringing out the kid in them.

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  10. Mindy, I do look forward to Christmas, even in hard times. The season always gives me a sense of hope. And I find joy in being with family! I love having everyone home. :)

    Great cover!! And the story sounds fantastic too.

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    1. Missy, the holiday season stirs hope in me, too. Jesus birth fulfilled God's promise to send a Messiah. Today we await His second coming and I that's definitely something to be hopeful for.

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  11. Oh this is a timely post for me. Choose JOY. I've been overwhelmed by fear and doubt lately and struggling to find the peace I so desperately need. So thank you for that reminder.

    I love your cover! What a good-looking cowboy!!! :)

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    1. Sherrinda, fear and doubt can be mighty powerful emotions. Choose joy and the peace that passes understanding. I will be praying for you.

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  12. I have been having a spirited text conversation with three of my children about how I may have given a ride to a serial killer. I have four daughters.
    And three have been sassing me. The fourth...has a five day old baby and has not said a word.
    So now I'm worried.
    Maybe she's sleeping.

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    1. Mary, she has a 5 day old. She's either sleeping or feeding the baby. And why do you think you gave a ride to a serial killer? Why were you giving a ride to someone you didn't know?!

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    2. Why would you pick up a serial killer????

      (hangs head, chin on floor....)

      God wants his children SAFE and charitable.

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    3. a young man rushing toward a store, spotted me and rushed over to me and said, "Can you please give me a ride to the courthouse? My car broke down."
      he points vaguely across a busy street, across a parking lot. I can see a zillion cars.
      HE BEGGED!
      He offered me twenty dollars.
      The courthouse is a few blocks away, in a town. I am not in some scary lonely area.
      I wanted to FLOOR IT. Instead, I gave him a ride.
      He climbed in the back seat on the far side from the driver's seat...but the front passenger seat was full of stuff.
      And I gave him a ride a few blocks and THE THINGS THAT WENT THROUGH MY HEAD.

      Bullet to the brain.
      He says he's going to be arrested of he's late for his court date. I'm thinking...……….this isn't a lawyer. The sweatpants were a huge clue.

      I considered offering him a book...…...then, genius, I have given him my name, so no.

      All of this and more rioting through my head. He's got his phone out...giving me directions...what do you think? Was he afraid I WAS A SERIAL KILLER. So he was watching in case I floored it out of town?


      And I dropped him off, he'd dropped a $20 bill in the cup holder, over the seat. I handed it back and said, Merry Christmas.

      And he ran off toward the courthouse. So my actions kept a nice young man/serial killer out of jail.


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    4. Unless, of course, they arrested him for whatever crime he had a court date for. He said he lived over 2 hours away.
      So he drove up here, committed a crime (maybe speeding in a construction zone, let's go with that) and came back to town to protest the ridiculously excessive fine!

      As I said, my thoughts rioting.....

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    5. Oh, Mary. Your life is turning into one of your books.

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  13. I love that phrase "Choose Joy!"

    That means so much to me as a mother and grammy and writer and sister and person.

    God wants us to choose joy over anger and sorrow and adversity and politics and silly feuds and grudges.

    Such simple words, Mindy, with so much promise. Choose joy...

    Yes! A thousand times yes.

    You just made my day!!!

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    1. Those two words pack a lot of punch, don't they, Ruthy? Kind of makes you take a step a back and rethink things. Joy is a fruit of spirit, whereas anger and sorrow only seek to devour us. It's sad when that happens. Glad I could make your day.

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  14. Eleven years ago after being assaulted by a patient and receiving a permanent injury which caused the chronic vertigo, I chose to rejoice in the Lord and I believe that is why I do not wallow in depression. Yes there are times when I am sad for a moment but find my strength in the Lord and can rejoice because of the Lord.

    Although I am slow to get my tree up this year and finding I tear up easily, I am still enjoying the holiday season. I love Christmas and the whole reason behind the season.

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    1. Wilani, bless you for not wallowing in depression. I can imagine it would be so easy to do. Instead, you've chosen to be an inspiration to others. And we SO appreciate that. Thank you for being a blessing to us here at Seekerville.

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  15. I love this post! Joy is a choice!

    I love to anticipate. I love the decorations, the baking, the music, all the things that we do to show that the Birthday we're celebrating is different from anyone else's.

    And to anticipate that the First Coming will lead to the Second Coming! Yay! Such Joy!

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    1. Erica, I'm in total agreement with everything you just said. Here, have a sugar cookie and some hot cocoa.

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  16. I love the decorations, reading my Advent Devotional, and tonight I went to the Christmas Parade just for the fun of it. The simple things bring me joy....Merry Christmas.

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    1. Lucy, Christmas parades are fun. The town we used to live in always had one and it was so festive. Everyone was happy to be there and celebrate the season.

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  17. Mindy, I've been gone all day at my two jobs, so just getting a chance to chime in. I love everything about Christmas. I am really staying on top of it this year, too. I am looking forward to seeing my family in the week between Christmas and New Year's. We will be together but missing my mom in the first Christmas without her.

    Please enter me in the drawing for your gift package.

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    1. Sandy, those first holidays without a loved one can be tough. But sharing memories with other who loved them helps soften the blow. Especially if someone brings up something comical and you end up laughing despite your tears. And why is it that some Christmases we're on top of things and others we're scrambling? Guess that's just the way life goes.

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  18. Driving around and seeing all the lights up.

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    1. Don't forget the Christmas tunes on the radio while you're driving around, Kim. That there spells out a perfect evening.

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  19. What a lovely post, Mindy! I enjoy the Christmas season. I'll admit I don't like putting up the Christmas decorations and taking them down again, but I love seeing them while they're up. I'm in denial this year that it's already December--didn't I just put the decorations away a month or two ago???

    Your new cover is scrumptious!! It should be a best seller!!

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    1. Winnie, taking down Christmas decorations is never as fun and exciting as putting them up. It's like a sad goodbye to a beloved friend we only see once a year. Of course, that only lends to the anticipation that builds all year and makes people like me long to put them back up before Thanksgiving. ;-)

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  20. Mindy you are so right when you say joy is a choice! We can choose to find joy in anything and everything or be miserable and upset. It's not easy to choose joy, I think our natural reaction is quite the opposite...at least I know mine tends to be :-) My husband is a great example to me, he's always telling me there's a bright side to everything and I'm learning to see it for myself. I'm certainly a work in progress!

    I think this has to be the most joyful period for a lot of people, the anticipation of precious family time or parties with friends celebrating the holiness of Jesus's birth or spending time with our church families. I know I look forward to time spent with loved ones this special season!

    Thanks for the opportunity to win a special gift pack and I love the cover for your upcoming Love Inspired. I know I can't resist a cowboy on the cover :-)

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    1. Trixi, why is it that it's so much easier to be miserable than to choose joy? Like it's a default. Thank God for those people like your husband who are there to remind us to choose joy.

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  21. Joy is my favorite word. I connect joy with Jesus-Other-You, a Bible school lesson from many years ago. It is always available to us. We may not always have happiness but we can always have joy!

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    1. Oh, good gracious, I love that, Connie. Jesus-Others-You. I might need to have my daughter make that into a sign.

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