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You know that good old movie, Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase? I love that scene at the beginning when he takes his family out into the forest to cut down a tree. He brings it home, unclips it, and it springs out fifteen feet and nearly injures everyone. Talk about over the top… well, that’s what I’m like at Christmas too, a real life Chevy Chase.

I love Christmas! The whole thing! I’m one of those simple hearts who is not in conflict over enjoying both the magic of Santa Claus and still remembering the importance of the real meaning of Christmas… the birth of the Savior Christ in Bethlehem.

When our kids were little, I so desperately wanted to make their Christmas full of magic and wonder. One year, when my daughter was three, I actually climbed up onto the roof while my wife, Julie, was bathing her in the tub. I had the perfect plan! It was the night before Christmas, and all through the house, baby Jenna was bathing, her jammies laid out. Dad on the rooftop wearing golf cleats making his way to the chimney… Don’t worry this isn’t another story of me falling

My plan was fun, child-like, Santa-like even. I wanted to jump around on the roof like Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer and pretend to have made a noisy landing. I wanted to yell down the chimney “Ho Ho Ho! Merry Christmas Little Jenna!” I just knew this memory would bring joy and magical memories and warm her little heart and soul. She’ll be putting on her PJ’s and say “Listen, Mommy, Santa is on the roof! And I think Rudolf too! Yippee! I am so excited for Christmas! I love you Mommy. I love you Daddy!”

Well, just like in Christmas Vacation, my Chevy Chase plan didn’t go quite right. Instead of being all gumdrops and fairytales, it was more like a horror film where a crazy guy comes down the chimney… My enthusiasm got the better of me and I jumped too hard and scared my little Jenna half to death. And Julie too! Then when I started yelling down the chimney, Julie reports that Jenna looked like a cat tossed into water, she scratched and clawed out of the bathtub nearly climbing to the ceiling. She was terrified of what was happening, unable to understand what was really going on.

Julie is convinced that I permanently altered her psychological wiring around Christmas. Our little Jenna, now grown up with a baby of her own, has never liked Santa Claus…hmmm wonder why… She is actually very well adjusted, turns out after that incident it is me that needs the counseling! I felt terrible about the mishap.

So instead of leaping down chimneys this year, I want to ask you to take a little leap of faith with me now while I reflect on the real meaning of Christmas.

Imagine: Silent Night, Holy Night

The first one! Before Santa Claus, before Christmas trees, before lights, or malls, or bad holiday shopping traffic. A scared 16-17 year old virgin betrothed to be married to Joseph is shown an Angel who says “Fear not, favored one. I bring you good news. You will give birth to the Christ Child… you will call him Immanuel-God with us!”

When the birth came, there was no fanfare, no elation or supporting medical team. Just a handful of dusty shepherds, some livestock and a star overheard to point the way. God will always use something to lead us in the right direction towards Him.

In that little stable over 2,000 years ago, Christ cried and the world rejoiced.

That little baby wrapped in swaddling clothes was God’s gift to mankind. The survivor. Christ Jesus. He had one mission: to die upon the cross for our sins. My sins. Steve Gutzler’s sins. And there are plenty there. The Bible says He rose again and is alive in Heaven. I can receive the gift of Christmas, as can you.

Don’t we all need that gift of hope and love? I know that I sure do. My world can become turbulent, confusing, and very messy and hard at times. I need that promise of a plan more than ever.

So this Christmas, I am going to stay off the rooftops. I am going to go to church, a candle light service. I am going to light a candle. And I am going to remind myself of that baby, that man, that Savior who died for me so that I can live in his Amazing love.

I want to take a moment to thank you for connecting with me. What a privilege it has been. I appreciate all of my readers. It is an honor to know and serve you the best I can, even if we have never met in person. Merry Christmas to you and I am sending much love to you as well.

It is going to be a great 2012! But first, celebrate your Silent and Holy Night.

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