Weeks of baking, making decorations, planning parties, and drinking hot chocolate in the light of the Christmas tree are over. Weeks of singing Christmas songs, watching Christmas movies, making gingerbread houses, and preparing for the best day of the year are now…over.

Once the cousins, grandparents, and aunts and uncle leave our house, Reece immediately obtains her PHD. Unfortunately, I’m not talking about an advanced collegiate degree. I’m talking about her own version of “Post Holiday Depression.” The “After Christmas Blues”. The “I waited for this day all year long and then, boom, it’s over.”

For the next few days after Christmas, Reece will let out random, yet extra long sighs. She voices her disappointment in the annoying passing of time with comments such as “only 364 more days”. An almost solemn tone in her voice remains for several days until the new year. Don’t get me wrong. The “reason for the season” is always in the forefront of her mind. But even still, PHD has a way of infecting wide eyed Christmas loving kids all over the world.

It is no secret that our family loves that time of year. As soon as the last Thanksgiving meal bite is eaten, it is time to prepare for the best birthday ever. Red and green overtakes every other color in our house. Reece begins her annual “Christmas Craft a Day” tradition when she creates some sort of new decoration or recipe each day. The homemade countdown calendar goes on display and Moses can sport his snowman sweaters and Santa shirts proudly. Even the chicken coop and rabbit pen have no choice but to participate in the festivities as they fall victim to the Christmas decorating fairy.

Yes, the season of hope is cherished in our home. And why wouldn’t it be? The birth of our Savior should be more celebrated than any other birthday of the year. So I proudly admit that there are never too many gingerbread houses on display and there is never enough “O Holy Night” harmonizing through our home.

We were determined to ensure that Christmas 2016 would be extra special for Reece. The past two Christmases left a couple of tainted memories for her. A mean spell of mononucleosis hit her two years ago. And last year, our beloved rooster, Floyd, was killed by a hawk on Christmas day.

I am happy to report that Christmas 2016 was extra special. But it also made it extra difficult to see December 25th pass. Hence, we lightheartedly labeled Reece’s condition PHD. She has recovered well the past couple of weeks. Her annual New Years celebration slumber party with her grandparents and cousins usually has a way of becoming the “next best day” of the year. The fact that we agreed to leave the smaller tree in the living room as a “Valentine’s Day” tree has also given her a new countdown and daily motivation for baking and crafting.

Hope. I would say the antonym of this term would be disappointment. We hope for good news. We hope for good days. We hope for a lot don’t we? We also get disappointed a lot don’t we? I think that is one of the reasons I love Christmas so dearly. It is a reminder that in spite of disappointment, hope remains. The greatest picture of hope we could possibly have came into the world two thousand years ago.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Romans 5:1-5

There are several facts we can take from this passage. We can take joy in our trials. Why? God redeems them for our good.  He has a way of taking suffering and turning it into purpose. He has a way of taking problems and turning them into solutions.

Another fact-In the midst of our troubles the grace of God allows us to seek Him more. This, in turn, produces in us a perseverance that can only come about through difficult times. Think of a season in your own life when you endured…and survived. Are you the same person today because of it? I doubt it. Your character was enhanced. Your wisdom was increased.

And then…there is hope. Hope comes about when we endure and our character is built further. Hope in our strength, hope in our life, and most importantly, hope in an eternal destiny awaiting us. Unlike a worldly hope, this hope will not disappoint us. Through God’s grace, we can look beyond our current troubles to a hope in our Savior and a hope for His return. As we wait, the Holy Spirit comforts us in our trials and the presence of God is ushered in.

So as Reece recovers successfully from her PHD each year, the hope of future Christmases remains. We could all use a little hope throughout the year couldn’t we? My hope is that we cling to the hope that will never disappoint.


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