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Today’s Reflection

MY HUSBAND and children still affectionately remind me of “The Year of the Crooked Christmas Tree” – a time when I almost succumbed to the futile quest for the “perfect” holiday celebration. That particular year, when my son was quite young, he was wrapped up in his typically exuberant play and crashed into the Christmas tree, knocking it to the ground. I picked it up and tried to set it back in its stand, only to discover that the base had broken in the fall. As I leaned the crooked tree against the wall and swept up the broken ornaments, I struggled with feelings of sadness and disappointment. Our “perfectly” beautiful tree was now all wrong.

Over the following days, however, I slowly began to regain perspective. I would have welcomed the practice of contemplative coloring had I known about it back then. As the crooked Christmas tree became an unanticipated part of our holiday décor, I grew surprisingly fond of its quirky presence.

It reminded me that the desire to create the perfect Christmas had become a distraction. Christmas isn’t about the perfect tree or the perfect gift or the perfect gathering. Christmas is about bringing our imperfections to the manger and trusting that the peace that passes all understanding can be born into our lives. Centering Prayer and contemplative coloring help us let go of this myth of perfection and return our focus to the Prince of Peace.

– Sharon Seyfarth Garner
Mandalas, Candles, and Prayer

From page 98 of Mandalas, Candles, and Prayer: A Simply Centered Advent by Sharon Seyfarth Garner. Copyright © 2017 by Sharon Seyfarth Garner. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Upper Room Books. http://bookstore.upperroom.org/ Learn more about or purchase this book.

Today’s Question

Find God through the imperfections you encounter today. Share your thoughts.

Today’s Scripture

And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

Galatians 4:6, NRSV

This Week: pray for those who are working more than one job. Submit your prayer to The Upper Room Living Prayer Center or share it in the comment section.

Did You Know?

In need of prayer? The Upper Room Living Prayer Center is a 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by trained volunteers. Call 1-800-251-2468 or visit The Living Prayer Center website.

This week we remember: Stephen (December 26).

Lectionary Readings

(Courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library)

Sponsored by Upper Room Ministries ®. Copyright © 2017 | PO Box 340004 | Nashville, TN 37203-0004 | USA


{ 16 comments… add one }

  • Connie December 29, 2017, 7:23 am

    There are a lot of imperfections in my life, beginning with my own. However, nothing God cannot help me with. Today I will face snowy, slippery roads and hope my driving skills abound!
    As the New Year approaches, I pray for a healthy and prosperous one for my beloved Reflection Friends.

    • Andrea December 29, 2017, 8:58 am

      Prayers for safe travels for you, Connie.

      • Mary Ng Shwu Ling December 29, 2017, 10:43 pm

        Connie, may God protect you from all harm and danger


  • Betsy December 29, 2017, 7:45 am

    Every year I often work hard to make the Christmas time with family just “perfect “, so I can identify with this reflection. Striving to make things just so is a distraction from the true meaning of Christmas and the reason why we gather. All our family has left our house; back to their homes, back to their routines and lives. Things were not perfect, but we were all together, celebrating Christ’s Birth. Praying today for quiet blessings on our lives as we enter the new year.

  • Julie December 29, 2017, 7:58 am

    Prayers for safe travel for Connie.
    Betsy, may you haave many beatiful memories of your time with your family.
    This reflection is certainly true for me. I am far from perfect, but God remains near me despite of these imperfections. Hoe great is His love!
    May I see each person I encounter this year as His beloved and worthy of my time, patience and understanding.
    Blessings to my wonderful and dear UR friends
    May you each have a wonderful, safe, prosperous, love filled year

  • Andrea December 29, 2017, 8:17 am

    I love this sentence: “Christmas is about bringing our imperfections to the manger and trusting that the peace that passes all understanding can be born into our lives.” Trusting that the peace that passes all understanding can be born into our lives. Yes. I love the Galatians reading, how it complements the reading.

    I have mentioned the snow frequently in my comments, so I probably sound like a broken record… but I am so drawn into the quiet beauty of the snowy landscape I see from the window where I sit. It gives me such a feeling of peace.

    Wishing UR friends and visitors a blessed day.

  • Julie December 29, 2017, 10:15 am

    Andrea, thank you for your words.
    I can feel your peace and it has entered me, imbueing me with peace also
    Thank you again

  • Marcy December 29, 2017, 3:38 pm

    Thank you, dear God, for sending the Spirit of Your Son into our hearts. How we need you, Father, how much we adore you.

    I am missing Robert, and sincerely hope all is well with Erich and Annaliese. Please, Lord, keep watch over our good friend and caring, exemplary encouragerer.

    Andrea, I’m praying for your daughter, son-in-law and grandson and the patience you have shown. Your beautiful, serene, descriptive words of winter snow have a calming, soothing effect on my soul. I cherish your being here in the UR family and take your words and prayers to heart. Thank you, so very much.

    Chloe, I’m keeping you and Paige and also your younger daughter in prayer and also appreciate the prayers you have expressed among us. You are strong and an inspiration. Thank you.

    Louise, thank you also, for wonderful, uplifting words, and I continue to keep your Aunt in my prayers. Thank you for your prayers.

    Jill, yes, your ability to put into words what most if us cannot, is a gift from God. I’m sorry about your cancelled trip, but glad you can be here to support your friend. You are a blessing to many.

    Julie, I continue to pray for the healing of your knee, relief for your hands and for your daughter and yourself, but especially the situation of your husband. Oh Julie, how well I understand. And I wish I knew what I said or implied early on when joining the conversation here in the UR family that changed your initial opinion of me. I apologize for whatever it was, I don’t know what it was, but if you’d tell me, I know I would learn from it. My sincere love to you. Thank you for your example of strength.

    Mary, my friend, I’m praying for your Dad’s recovery and your Mom’s well-being. Please take time to take care if yourself, too. Like I have said, you are a sweet, good, loving daughter, teacher, friend and soul, a help to many. Thank you.

    Connie, may God watch over you as you travel safely. I’m praying for you.

    Betsy, rejoicing in your wonderful family Christmas. That’s a real treasure, as you tell us and how true it is. Worth more than all the “things” in this world. You are blessed and a blessing.

    I’m humbled by all your prayers for me, UR family. I admit, even with my faith, I’m despondent, yet still hopeful, thank the Lord. This is my eighth day of hospitization, and the staff seems to be reminded constantly, that my weakness and the decompensating has been going on, even when I was working. Not just due to the illness attacking me now. I cannot be sent home alone this way, and due to insurance (why do the people with nothing, I mean nothing, get treated so abominably?) I’m sorry for the bitterness, but it’s all gotten to be a bit much. I get sick of hearing myself, so I’ll shut up now.

    Praying for and thinking about Andrea, Cherie, Jill, Chloe and Paige, Robert, Erich and Annaliese, Gerri, Lou, Mary, Louise, Connie, Betsy, Julie, Francesca, Pam, Ami, April, Jean, Rusty and K, Joan, Carol, Eileen, Dorothy, Holly M, Laurie, Tori, Stephen Walked and all others unspoken needs and prayers here in the UR family and beyond. Lord, You know what those needs and prayers are.

    Praying for all who work multiple jobs. It’s a real juggling act, I know and remember.

    I’m continuing to lift you all in prayer to the best of ability and rejoice with you in the Hope, Peace, Joy and Love of our Awesome Father God, His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within us. Please, LORD, bring peace of mund, heart, soul and body to those struggling physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually and praises for all in victory.

    Thank you, to dear Mark, the PCT who typed this post for me. May God bless him and keep him safe and well.

    And these three remain: Faith, Hope and Love, and the greatest of these is LOVE! I will never stop loving You and trusting in You, Jesus. My truest Love to this UR family, each one of you.

    • Mary Ng Shwu Ling December 29, 2017, 8:16 pm

      Thanks so much Marcy!

      Yesterday, i reported at 8am at my new working place. A short briefing the at 10am, we proceed to the royal park hotel for lunch.

      Visited my dad at the hospital after lunch. He requested for prayers as he will be going for hip operation in teo weeks time. Thank God his sugar level was normal so no need to have insulin injection. Fed him dinner, washed his face and spectacles. He was happy.

      Mum also is ok

      Your prayers are effective, Marcy!

      Praise God for you!

      Have a wonderful weekend and new year!

    • Andrea December 29, 2017, 8:30 pm

      Yes Mary, I agree. Marcy’s prayers are very effective; thank you for your prayers, Marcy. Marcy, I pray you do not go home alone; I pray for you to gain strength and recover, cared for and watched over by competent people who also administer generous doses of TLC. When you are discouraged, I pray you let go and rest in God’s everlasting arms. God bless you.

  • Julie December 29, 2017, 6:55 pm

    Marcy, my sincere prayers and heartfelt sisterly love. Perhaps I mistyped something that led you to think I was displeased with you. Again, may you feel my thoughts of support lifting you up to our Lord.

  • Chloe December 29, 2017, 9:55 pm

    I bought this book mentioned today. the idea of stopping, from the demands of life for awhile, and a quiet time with God, Wow, is so wonderful and needful! Help us holy spirit! Not that you have to color, but art or craft time is good for the soul, more prayer also, always needed, but sometimes admittingly makes me sad…. Thank you for your prayers Marcy and to any who have so kind to have lifted up my daughters. Asking prayer to our benevolent God for much healing of my broken heart over their hurtful ways and wisdom to handle, that honors him, and not in my hurt flesh. That’s hard and requires much Jesus and not Chloe. This life is definitely a challenge for all as I read these posts and so very hard at times and my heart goes out to all. So thankful for His coming as our Prince of Peace at precious Christmas, that many were blessed with family, no matter imperfections, that’s why he came really : ) And for His being our Immanuel, which I find most comforting. Traveling to a B&B tomorrow for get-away! My Thoughts and Prayers lifted for each and all to our Father.

  • Mary Ng Shwu Ling December 29, 2017, 10:49 pm

    Please pray for me as I need to go to the polyclinic to get one kind of my mum’s medication. I just brought her this mum and there is no more. It happened three times already. It has been stolen. Usually the pharmacist will not issue the medication unless I bring my mum to the policlinic. It is very difficult to wake her up early in the morning. Usually I will go early and queue before the gate is open cause I need to rush to work after that. Please pray for a miracle. Thanks

    • Mary Ng Shwu Ling December 29, 2017, 10:51 pm

      I mean this month not this mum.

      Sorry for the typo. Very tired. I am visiting my dad at the hospital

  • robert moeller December 29, 2017, 10:50 pm

    It is in our imperfection, our brokenness that God works wonders. Thank You, Lord.

    I started a post here earlier today, some how it wasn’t saved. So thankful for the posts, prayers from all of you for others here in this online community. Very glad to be back here.

    Had a wonderful time Tues. -Thurs. visiting my daughter and granddaughters. Oona was two on the 26th. Walked in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, ate great meals, and the flights to and from NYC went well.

    Things are going well for Erich. His first paycheck, for two days, was almost as much as a whole week at other jobs. Things are working out for him.

    Anneliese is struggling, she fell some time back and has fractured her pelvis. X-rays prove it. She will get some pain management help. Dealing with an alcohol abusive tenant is difficult, hopefully the judge will recognize that the tenant is a danger when intoxicated. The father and niece of her son-in-law are both in the hospital. The father with cancer and the niece with anorexia.
    Prayers for her.

    Thankful that Marcy’s prayers make it to the UR. The Lord is most certainly helping you and you are very much in our prayers. You and many others here at the UR are the example of people through whom the Lord speaks. We are blessed. Thank you and thank You, Lord.

    Prayers for Mary on her new job, her Dad recovering from surgery and about to have hip surgery, for Mary’s mum and family as they work together to help each other. Thank You, Lord.

    Prayers for Andrea and Lowell, for Chloe and her daughters, for Betsy and Grace and their families, for Julie’s hands, knee, husband, and living conditions, for Connie, Jill, Rusty and K, Gerri, and all who come to the UR.
    It is and continues to be a great blessing to know you, share with you, and to lift you up. Prayers for God’s peace as we approach a New Year. The Lord keep His countenance with you always. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

    • Mary Ng Shwu Ling December 29, 2017, 10:55 pm

      Thanks so much Robert. Glad to hear that you have a good time with your daughter and granddaughter.

      May Anneliese have a speedy recovery.

      Blessings and may you and your family have a happy new year

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