Christmas eve!

“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.”

I love the Christmas holidays, it’s a time for families to gather, take time off from work and just enjoy reconnecting.

After moving back to the U.S. this year, I am really excited about spending this Christmas with family. Christmas always seems to mark a time of cooking delicious foods and sitting around with the family watching movies and putting together puzzles.

I think that the meaning of Christmas can never be overstated, and that is that we are celebrating the birth of Christ, the Messiah and Savior. Many people will head out to Christmas Eve services tonight at churches all over the country, but many will miss the true meaning.

Tonight, many families will sit down together, some to open presents given by one another, others to share a meal, yet some don’t have families that get together at all. For many Christmas comes and goes without even being noticed.

As Christmas is such a time of giving and being generous, we need to stop and notice those who are needing a warm embrace or maybe just a word of encouragement. There are many ways to do these things, but the easiest way is to simply look around where you are and you will see the needs that you can meet.

However you plan to spend your Christmas holiday I pray that it will be merry!


lighting the night at christmas

For many years people have been using brightening up the darkenss of the winter months by decorating the streets of their cities with festive lights. Everything from Candles and gas lamps to present day “Christmas lights” have been used.

After living in Russia for some time, I began to understand even more the joy of having these decorative lights through the winter months. Moscow would light up at night, and despite getting dark at 4pm the streets would shine and bring new life to the cold nights.

I remember growing up going out and decorating the front of the house with Christmas lights, the vast array of colors providing a certain feeling inside that just made you feel good. Then there was driving around to look at other people’s light displays. There is so much association between lights and the Christmas holiday, it has become something of much anticipation.

Reflecting on the year past

It’s December, and soon 2009 will come to an end.  I can’t believe how fast time goes by, I mean it seems like just a few days ago I was standing in Wenceslas Square in Prague, Czech Republic dodging all of the fireworks people are shooting off.  Now here I am 11 months later and as the year closes it’s nice to slow down and reflect.

This year has been a big year for me, I started this year in Prague, I was living in Moscow, Russia when the year began. I got to go on several photojournalism trips to remote places in Siberia, Russia and so much more.  I can’t even begin to think about all that I have been blessed with this year without thinking of one of my biggest blessings.  I got engaged this year to a lovely young lady.  God has truly blessed me.

I love taking time to reflect and remember. I think of the difficult times of transition as I moved back to the United States from Moscow.  This was a big transition as I had been out of American culture for over 2 years.  I began to hear and see things in life here that didn’t make sense because I was so far removed from everything. I was shocked at how strange it was to hear everyone speaking English. I have had to learn how to transisiton from being a single guy to a “fiance” and soon to be “husband”.

I’m excited to see what the future holds in 2010, I will be getting married, going back to school to get my masters degree, and moving to a new state.  Many changes await for me in this coming year, and I can’t wait to see how God is going to bring me through all of them.

Isn’t it great to just stop and reflect on what God has brought about in your life over the past year!