I just spent my first Christmas away from my family and friends. In another country. I wasn't sure how it would be...I definitely missed my dear family and friends and the traditions we always had fun doing. I knew this year would be very different. And yet, as my aunt reminded me, "You're being showered with gifts one could never purchase anywhere!" So true. I treasure these moments.
My kids in small group decorated little paper ornaments Christmas Eve. We went over Christmas vocabulary. When I got to the nativity scene, I asked who was the baby in the manger. Yoyo, a bright 10-year-old with a deep voice, excitedly piped up:
And yet so profound.
Then little Kevin came running up to me after 8 AM class and gave me a big hug. He's one of three boys from an orphanage. My heart hurts for him. He's without parents and he's broken and sad inside. He needs Christ to come take those pieces and make him new, whole. I pray that our week together will be a seed planted in him that will bear fruit for eternity.
I thank God for this opportunity to see Yoyo's face break into a huge smile as he proclaimed that Jesus is God. I thank God for the opportunity to hug little orphan Kevin and ruffle his hair. I thank God for hearing Mickey, our taxi driver friend, ask why we celebrate Christmas and if it's all about Jesus.
That's a bit of what my Christmas was like.
And I begin to see anew that what my aunt said is true. When Christmas is all about Christ, rejoicing in Him, and sharing Him with others, you are showered with precious gifts that you could never ever buy.
So when I miss my parents and siblings, when I wish I could teach Sunday school at my church in the States, when I wish I could go on adventures with dear friends, I remind myself that He's worth it.
We hope you'll be encouraged by this interview with Emily, Bloom! Photographer and Designer, about her heart surgery years ago and how the Lord has been using that in her life.
Tell us a bit about your heart issue.
I was born with TAPVR (Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return). The pulmonary vein that should have taken oxygen from my lungs and sent it through my heart to the rest of my body was connected to the wrong side of my heart. Therefore, I could not oxygenate my body at all. Within a few minutes of my birth I started turning blue. I was quickly flown to Dallas Children’s Hospital where I had open heart surgery at barely a day old.
So you had heart surgery. You were a baby and won't remember it, but what have your parents told you about it?
I have heard the story so many times that it seems like I do remember it. So, what exactly did having surgery do? The surgery snipped the vein and reconnected it to the right side of the heart. The incision was patched with a portion …
It's almost Christmas Day and we thought it would be fun and encouraging to share some questions and answers from several of our Bloom! staff about Christmastime! Enjoy!
What's your favorite Christmas tradition and why?
The Christmas Eve service at our church. It's special to me because we sing Christmas carols together and we light each other's candles and sing "Silent Night" at the end. This is often a time when the reality of Jesus' birth sets in.
Share with us a favorite Christmas movie or song and why you love it.
One of my favorite Christmas songs is "O Holy Night." It's awesome because the chorus calls people to remember the holiness of Jesus' birth and to still realize the specialness of each Christmas that follows.
How do you focus on Christ during Christmas, especially when it's so easy to get caught up in the festivities?