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I just LOVE seeing all the beautiful Christmas decorations in the pictures posted on Facebook! There are so many people with such talent and such beautiful homes! It is really a joy to see all the different ways that friends and family prepare for the wonderful Christmas holiday! For many years, when I was much younger, less crazy, and had a lot more energy, I, too, was blessed to be able to go "all out" for the holiday. I think of all those Christmas Eves when we would rush home to meet with our family friends to take our children together to see Christmas lights! (Neither family had any way of knowing at the time that there would be Christmases to come when we would both experience pain and grief related to our love for some of our precious children.) I remember many Christmases when my own mother would put up four or five trees in her home! There would be loads of presents under every tree and the job of opening each one would take us hours! For me, at least, those days seem to be a thing of the past. Whether it's work, less time, less energy, or less funds, I no longer go to the effort I used to at this time of year. I'm by no means saying that people should not decorate or buy to their hearts' content. I'm just saying it's something that's no longer a part of my celebration. As I have looked at each post this week, I've been very mindful of people and homes that will not be very elaborately decorated this year; homes where there will be only a few gifts, if any. When I was younger, I knew that there were people much less fortunate than I, but not so much on a personal level. Today, I know many of those people by name. Many, if not most, are young. For them, it's not that they don't want to go all out; they can't. I'm sure as they look at the beauty of the season all around them and in the homes of their friends, they feel inadequate. When I was a young mother, I felt the pressure at Christmas to have a beautiful home with a beautiful tree and lots and lots of gifts. After a while, Christmas was not as joyous for me because of the great pressure I had placed on myself to be the very best at what I thought my family and the world expected of me at this time of year. So, if you have that beautiful home and that beautiful tree and those mounds of presents this year, I'm happy for you, but this post is not for you! This post is for those of you who will feel that pressure this year, but have no way of fulfilling what you think is required of you for your child, your children, and your family. There are those I love who are living in single parent homes without the financial and emotional support they desire and deserve. They are people who work hard, try hard, and single-handedly make the daily effort to provide for their home . Some of them would find a relief in skipping Christmas all together. This post is for you! I urge you to not be overwhelmed by the expectations you have placed on yourself to make Christmas happen for those you love. Don't watch too much TV, pour over magazines, or consume yourself with Facebook posts of what others are doing for Christmas! My savior, the baby Jesus, was born in a barn. He entered not through a sterile, beautiful labor and delivery room set up with the latest medical equipment. There were no doctors and nurses, no gift bags full of welcoming goodies, and no door hanger designed by a loving aunt or friend. His mother was likely a teenager at the time of His birth. I can imagine that she was scared and confused even though she trusted the Holy Spirit that had spoken to her heart. She was talked about and scorned, the daily subject of scandal and ridicule. There was no beautifully decorated tree, no home-baked goods filling the air with their deliciousness. The Messiah came that Christmas to a cave or a dirt floor surrounded by noisy, stinky, untrained farm creatures. He was initially greeted by dirty, smelly, bearded men who likely could have used the accommodations of a modern-day bathroom. His mother had no Black Friday deals to brag about! Perhaps his Earthly parents even had to cash in those initial gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh in order to provide for their growing boy! By the world's standards, His first Christmas was a flop! But, Oh, the JOY that is ours because He CHOSE to come!! I BEG of you to turn to that barn this Christmas! Stop focusing on what the world, society, or Facebook leads you to believe you "must" do these next 25 days to make Christmas good. Christmas is forever good because Christ came for YOU! To those who mean everything to me and to others that I don't even know.. decorate the best that you can, buy what you can afford, and take in the sights and sounds around you that bring happiness this time of year! Spend time with the people you love looking at lights, watching holiday movies together, and, by all means, go see Santa! These things build wonderful memories! But, know this.. Christmas has already been done! It was done when that Baby came! And it was completed when that Baby died, was buried, and came to life again on the third day! His days in a barn at Christmas was only a beginning! He resides in Heaven, seated at the Father's right hand! He desires to be your Savior! Won't you let Him? Enjoy this what you are able to in order to make it memorable for you and your family..but shake off the expectations that cause you stress and sadness. His desire this Christmas is for you to know Him, not just know about Him. To those I my family..this will be a good Christmas regardless of our circumstances..because of Him.. wedding collections With Lace Appliques in knee length