Christmas is Over?
Wait? What? Christmas is done… that is it? Well… actually, according to the Christian reformed calendar Christmas doesn’t necessarily end on the day after Christmas day. It will continue for the next couple of weeks.
So, the most important question for me is… if Christmas is continuing in the reformed calendar, that means I do not have to put away any Christmas decorations until January 7th . And that is a relief.
I love Christmas… and I love all the preparations for Christmas, like decorating the church and the house, buying gifts for family and friends. But what I do not like is taking down decorations, putting them away and now having to rearrange the house. It is just a pain in the butt. But eventually these decorations will have to come down… not now… but soon… maybe…
I wonder how long I can keep the Christmas decorations up? I think the longest I ever had Christmas decorations up was right up to Easter when I was living in Long Island New York. And I think I had it up the whole time was because my neighbor across the street had his up that whole time. And my thought process was simple, “Well if he has his still up, then it is ok that I have mine up.” I started to take it down when I saw him taking his down. I knew I should have put it away sooner, but to be honest I was lazy and didn’t want to face the hassle of putting away decorations and find space once again to put them somewhere. But I do not think I will wait until April to take down the Christmas decorations.
Even though I already see people taking their Christmas decorations and displays down, I think I still have several more weeks to do so, before the neighborhood starts questioning my mental state. To be honest…. Though... Another reason, other than laziness, that I don’t want to take down the Christmas decorations is because I love Christmas, and I feel that if I take down the decorations than Christmas ends and that Christmas spirit just dies.
I don’t want Christmas to just go away. Christmas is the best thing about winter, isn’t it? I mean without Christmas it would be the darkest, most depressing month of the entire year! All December is cloudy, gets dark around 4:30pm, windy, cold, and dry. Christmas is the flavor of the month! Christmas gives us carols, lights, bright colors, celebration, and Christ. Christ is born on that day, which means that God is with us in the darkest, bleakest parts in our life. He brings light to the darkness, chases away the clouds, and restores our dry bones, and parched souls.
So… can we wait to take down the decorations! It doesn’t have to be now. And even when you do decide to take down the decorations, remember that the spirit of Christmas, the Spirit of Christ is with you throughout the darkest, coldest, windiest winter nights. So may Christmas be with you for a few more days!
Anyone watch the Lion King? I just recently revisited the movie and honestly the story is compelling to see the journey that a lion cub must take to be the king. That little cub Simba had to go through every kind of challenge to be the Lion King. And maybe this isn’t too far from reality, and a metaphor for encouragement for us.
And it might not be so surprising to know that the chances that a lion cub would become the king of a lion pride is quite low, and possibly near impossible. Really only about 12% of lion cubs even make it into adult life, which is wild to think. When lions are born, they are born blind and deaf. You are completely helpless, and it isn’t only until one month lion babies are able to run. The mother of the cubs must leave the pride to give birth and have her full attention on the cubs to give them a possible chance of survival. Cubs will only have about 50% chance of surviving their first year and it doesn’t get easier after the first year. The chance of survival through the second year of birth decreases at about 20% and only then12% will make it to adulthood.
Lions are born in an environment that is violent, harsh, and at any moment these lions can be expired before they can even become an apex predator. When you are a lion in its first couple of years born, you can get killed by hyenas, territorial elephants, eagles, and are more prone to getting diseases. But the number one threat to the survival of young lions are other lions. 25% of lions will get killed by other lions. So, once you make it past childhood and the awkward teenage years, you become a young adult. This is the time you must leave the protection and comfort of your pride. You must go on your own to make your own pride. And being born in a hostile environment that preys on the weak and solo, you have little chance of finding any kind of success.
In these “alone” years young adult lions will find themselves in the wastelands of the wilderness. Living off a land that is undesirable to other apex predators. But these are the years that young lions hone in on their craft and skill, and the years that they have to learn and be smart. Young lions learn not to cross over to other territories and in this time the chance of survival increases when the young lions will meet a group of other roaming nomad lions like themselves. They find in each other protection, friendship, and cooperation in being more successful in the art of hunting. Young lions will be vulnerable on their own, but many times they just need only one companion to gain success.
But if a young lion is able to navigate the loneliness, not cross into other predators territory and learned to survive in areas that aren’t too suitable to live, all those things that a young lion go through, can make them stronger. Sometimes to be the King the young lions have to go through the struggle.
Now, let’s look at Jesus, you know… the King of kings. Look at everything He had to go through. His birth, which we will celebrate soon, had its enormous challenges. His mother being a teenager, father nearly leaving them, traveling while pregnant, then coming to be born outside in an animal stable, and only to be celebrated with a few, alone and isolated. And the struggle for Jesus does not end there. Because after Jesus was born, his family and Him had to run away to Egypt to escape Herod’s wrath and insanity. Remember, Herod went nuts and ordered every child killed three years or younger.
But Jesus, soon to be the King of kings, survived the purge and genocide, returned back to the land, and showed everyone what the true King shall do, and speak. The true King of king’s power is not on physical might, but on true love, confidence, mercy, and forgiveness.
Jesus knew in order to be King, He had to go through the sickness of the world, and the suffering or being misunderstood. But Jesus also survived by finding allies in His disciples to carry out the Good News to all people. And to this day, the law and decree of the King of kings’ reigns with us, who are now welcomed in His Father’s arms.
So, just remember, you may find yourself struggling. If you find yourself feeling blind and deaf, and feeling like taking steps forward is difficult, it is ok. Lions of the Savannah had to go through it. If you feel alone, scared, and having a hard time adapting to your surroundings, it is ok, because the soon to be king of the Savannah, the lion, had to go through it as well.
As a lion takes are arduous path to be a king, just as Jesus the King of kings did the same, remember you may find yourself in that same path. But have hope, because the things you go through now, you will overcome and find victory over the obstacles. And your victories will only build you up to feel like a king.
Just because it’s more expensive doesn’t mean it is better. Well…. sorta…. And what I just said doesn’t necessarily apply to all things. But I guess we need to ask ourselves is it worth the money?
So… all my life there are two things in this world I always wanted. One is a very nice, top of the line baitcasting fishing reel and the other is a nice rice cooker. And I must say I am very fortunate enough to have both currently right now. I am a very lucky and blessed person.
But… was it worth it? Were the things I bought worth the money?
The truthful answer is that I am so happy I can get these two devices in my life, but it really wasn’t necessary.
So, all my life since this technology has come out I always wanted one of these kinds of fishing reels. That is a Japanese digital chip baitcasting bass fishing reel. It’s a fishing reel that has a microchip in it that helps manage the speed of the spool on casts to the line coming off the fishing reel. Ok, that’s a complicated explanation. Basically, it helps the angler not get line tangles when you fish and make casts. And bonus, they make a cool noise every time you make a cast.
Now these reels don’t really come cheap. But I have had one for over a year and has it helped me catch more fish? Nope. I don’t feel that I caught more fish with this expensive reel compared to my other more affordable fishing reels. But I found some advantages for this expensive reel.
For buying this expensive reel I noticed that I could cast a little bit further than my other reels, using the same rod. Also, it is much easier to cast into the wind, creating less line tangles. It is also much easier to cast light fishing lures than my other reels, which is a big advantage for me.
So, is spending more money on a more expensive reel worth it? Yes, because it might make your time fishing a little bit easier, but also if you expect to catch more fish than you do with cheaper reels, it isn’t worth it.
But enough of that stuff, now probably the most important expensive item purchased because it is about the family/s wellbeing; that is our expensive rice cooker. And in our family, we do not go through a day without eating rice. A rice cooker is an absolute essential in our household. However, for a long time we have been using just a cheap cooker, and it does what it’s supposed to do… that is cook rice. However, the disadvantage is that we cannot cook as much rice because that cheaper rice cooker will make the rice dry and go bad if we don’t eat it within a couple of days. So, what if we get an expensive top of the line rice cooker. So, we did.
Was it worth it? Once again… mixed reviews. It does what it is supposed to do, which is cook rice and nice that we can cook a ton of rice and it will keep it warm and ready to eat for the week. Not much waste of food, which is great. But the more expensive rice cooker has so many buttons and gadgets that sometimes gets in the way of just wanting to cook rice. It talks to us and has so many kinds of settings that if you press the wrong button, I don’t know what it will do. Sometimes, simple is just better. For example… I like this rice cooker, but now it is talking to us in Chinese, and I don’t understand what it is saying at all, and my wife and I have no idea how to change it back. It’s a bit annoying. I am afraid of fiddling around with the pother buttons in the case that is changes other settings which we got used to. So… we got an expensive rice cooker that is talking to us in Chinese, and it may be like that for some time.
So, was it worth it? If you are just interested in cooking rice, anything will do, you don’t need the most expensive. However, if you want something that can talk to you in different languages and has a lot of bells and whistles that you might understand down the road… then go for it.
So, the point in this article I am writing to you all is simply to say, sometimes the most expensive thing to buy isn’t always going to be the best. We should be happy with living simply and being simple. We do not necessarily need all the added bells and whistles in our life. Be happy with what you have and don’t envy the stuff you don’t have. It’s the same way that we should view our relationship with God.
God is with you and loves you the same as all other people. God blesses you as He does with other people too. However, sometimes that blessing looks different. You may notice that some people may have more expensive stuff than you do, but it doesn’t make it better or worse! God knows what you need in your life and even sprinkles in the stuff you might want. God wants you to be satisfied with what you have and what you can do for others. What is essential is that you have the stuff that you already need anyways.
Suzie is disappointed in me. And I do not blame her. She refuses to come down and hang out with me while I do work because I didn’t spend enough time with her the past several days to take her outside and play in the creek or backyard. The weather has just been too wet and icky to really do anything. And I just don’t have the time to give her a bath afterwards. So, she has spent the whole morning upstairs in our bedroom, just pouting and huffing and puffing.
According to Suzie her play times in the past several days are not enough. And it really isn’t. I should do better, and I promised her on Friday and Saturday it would be better, and my life will hopefully be more balanced soon. But in the meantime… what I am doing for her is not enough.
Now you all might have felt like Suzie or maybe feeling like Suzie right now. Suzie is a good dog, always has been, does everything right, listens well, obeys every command, does everything we tell her to do. And her reward should be to get outside and play, but regardless of how well she behaves and everything she has done to please us, her play time never arrives, making her feel like she isn’t doing enough.
Breaks my heart that she might feel this way and it breaks my heart that people feel this way as well. Because sometimes no matter how hard we try, no matter how much effort we put into our workplace, social lives, and extracurricular activities, no matter how much passion we put in… the outcomes seems like it is never enough.
When you feel like the world is telling you what you do, who you are, and all your passion and ability is never enough it makes you feel unappreciated. Even if you do the right thing, even when you did a little bit extra, and have performed your duty to the highest of levels and yet it feels as if it was all for nothing.
In honesty we have all felt experienced what it feels like to be unappreciated. Sometimes talking about it can make you a pariah to others and they shut the door in your face or chose to downplay your feelings. But other times you actually run into sympathetic people how actually care about the way you feel. Hopefully we can all surround ourselves more with those sympathetic people.
If you are reading this and feel like you are unappreciated, feel like a pariah in your social, work, school, or community setting, I pray for better days. No one should treat anyone less than anyone else. No one should feel that they are unappreciated.
In God’s eyes, you are necessary, important, useful, worthwhile to be cared about and loved. And I encourage anyone who feels like the world is pointing the finger at you, you are feeling unappreciated, you are feeling worthless, talk to someone, anyone. Sometimes just talking to someone that truly cares can help a lot. I know what you might be going through is rough, but I know that it won’t last forever.
Sure, it is painful feeling this way now, but I promise you it is temporary, even if your situation and feeling has been going on for a while. You will find freedom; you will find what it means to be loved. Just hang on, keep grinding, talk to supportive people, and pay attention to what God might be giving you so that you can find your rightful place in this world.
Gosh darn it… Now after writing this, I better take Suzie out to play so she feels appreciated. God bless you all.
Hey this is Rev. Brian Choi's random thought throughout my week. Most of this stuff, will probably be about family, church, fishing, music, movies, food, whatever I think of, hopefully it will have some sort of theological reflection (maybe).