To My Family in Haiti Celebrating Christmas

To My Family in Haiti Celebrating Christmas

Oh, how my heart yearns to celebrate Christmas the way my Cercady family does.
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As I sit here preparing for the holidays, I can't help but stop and think about my family I visited in Haiti last summer. I can't help but wonder what their Christmas looks like. Is it anything like mine? My Christmases are filled with visiting family and friends, decorating the tree, hanging lights up, unwrapping presents, and peeking at all the goodies that Santa left in my stocking.

I highly doubt that in Cercady, Haiti, they celebrate Christmas with trees, Christmas lights, holiday parties, presents, and hoping that Santa will come sliding down their chimney. I really do not know how they celebrate their Christmas, but at times I wish my Christmas looked like theirs. I like to think that the meaning of Christmas has not become lost in translation, but looking at the world today, it has. The world needs to adjust its view of Christmas and learn where the importance lies, not on tangible gifts, but on the great gift above.

Instead of a Christmas tree, they might look to the wooden cross like the one that Christ was nailed to. Instead of Christmas lights, they look to the Light that shines upon them and protects them day to day. Instead of hoping that Santa will come down the chimney and fill their houses with presents, they wait for the coming of Christ. Instead of holiday parties, they have celebrations and delight in the Lord and Savior. Instead of any Christmas desserts, they are filled with the bread of Christ. Instead of holiday cocktails and wine, they remember his blood and drink from their cup to honor him. Instead of presents wrapped with elaborate wrapping paper, they are reminded that the greatest gift was the one that came from a manger. Instead of Christmas carols and holiday songs, they shout from the mountaintop praises of our Savior. Instead of Christmas wish lists, they write lists of prayers, delights, and struggles. Instead of dreaming of gifts that parish and one day rust away, they dream of the gift that lasts an eternity.

My Christmas looks very different to the Christmases that are celebrated across the world. Often times, I wish that my Christmas looked a little simpler like the way Christmas looks in Haiti. I wish that the world could see how different and special Christmas is the way my family in Haiti sees Christmas.

Luke 2: 9-14 of the NIV "An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in clothes and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel praying God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven an on earth peace to those whom his favor rests."

Cover Image Credit: Bert Parker

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12 Bible Verses For Faith In Hard Times

Remind yourself that God is always with you.
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Lately, I have felt lost at what God wants for my life. Ever since I've come back to UWG everything has been horrible. It seems that I can't catch a break. I'm trying my best to focus on school, work, and extracurricular activities. But it's hard when I'm having issues with my apartment/roommates and knowing my family back home is struggling and needs many prayers. All, I keep thinking is maybe Carrollton isn't where I belong anymore. I've asked God if He can guide me in the right direction. Below, I have found Bible verses that have helped get me through these rough, past couple of weeks.

1. Isaiah 43:2

"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you."

2. Psalm 37:5

"Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in Him, and He will act."

3. Romans 8:18

"The pain that you've been feeling, can't compare to the joy that's coming."

4. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed in strength, and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future."

5. Joshua 1:9

"Be bold. Be brave. Be courageous."

6. Ecclesiastes 3:1

"There is a time for everything and a reason for every activity under the heavens."

7. Isaiah 41:10

"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."

8. Isaiah 66:9

"I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says the Lord."

9. Psalm 91:4

"He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings, you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."

10. Psalm 62:1-2

"My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from Him, He alone is my rock and my salvation."

11. Philippians 4:13

"I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength."

12. Jeremiah 29:11

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Cover Image Credit: pixabay.com

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By Using God To Justify Hate, Christians Are Giving Christianity A Bad Name

I've seen people ask why young adults are straying away from Christianity, and in my opinion, it has to do with the lack of acceptance in the church.

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I grew up in Alabama, so it's no surprise that I grew up in church. I was saved, or baptized, at a young age. I grew up going to church camp, going on mission trips and participating in church activities, such as Thanksgiving lunches and Christmas plays.

As I grew up, I became interested in politics. I began watching public officials, most of whom claim they are Christians, build their platforms by turning down the rights of those in the LGBTQ community, helping the rich get richer, saying Christianity is the only correct religion and wanting to take away healthcare from those who cannot afford it.

The more I noticed these public officials saying things like this, the more I noticed that people who went to church agreed with them. This upset me.

What I was taught about Christianity was that God accepts everyone — no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, social status or economic status. He accepts all.

What I was hearing from churchgoers and those who claimed to be Christians was the exact opposite.

I faced an internal conflict, deciding whether or not I wanted to go to church anymore, much less be a Christian. I didn't want to be labeled as someone who does not accept people for who they are. That's not the person I am.

I didn't want people to think that, if they're in the LGBTQ community, I thought they were going to Hell. I didn't want people to think that, if someone was poor, I thought they did something in life to cause that. I didn't want those of other faiths to think their religion was not valid. I didn't want people who were physically or mentally sick to think I didn't want them to receive help.

So for the past few years, whenever someone asked me if I believed in God, I told them yes, but that I didn't believe in organized religion.

It may come as a shock to some Southerners when I say you don't have to actively be in a church to believe in God. My dad always taught me that you have to sometimes separate God from church. I never fully understood what that meant until I was in that situation.

According to pewforum.org, 66 percent of college graduates surveyed consider themselves Christians, and 25 percent said they do not have a religious affiliation.

I've seen people ask why young adults are straying away from Christianity, and in my opinion, it has to do with the lack of acceptance in the church.

I am a firm believer in the separation of church and state. I believe that in church, you can be taught to love someone no matter who they are and what their situation is. I believe that you can hold your own political morals.

What I don't believe in is using God's name to justify hate toward a certain group of people. And that, in my opinion, is what is giving Christianity a bad name.

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