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Grace and gratitude to squelch your inner Grinch

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Though we've moved past the month of Thanksgiving into the hustle and bustle of December, I'm constantly reminded of the importance of grace and gratitude. Amidst the shopping maze and commercialism craze it's more important than ever to remember just how much we have to be grateful for and that grace received and extended can go a long way to combat the Grinch that may try to make an appearance if holiday woes set in. For many, this time of year is not merry and bright, but there is hope for one and all.

What's really important this season is not the latest X-box or play station, for which people are literally and sadly, dying to get their hands on here in Chicago. It's not the fattest stocking, the best pie, or dare I say, putting the biggest smile on your child's face as they open the latest I-phone this Christmas morn. It's not winning your Honey's heart with the most brilliant diamond in the case or a 70 inch flat screen TV. While all these things can be nice, if you truly have the resources to afford them without going into debt come January, the richest on earth are those who have received grace incarnate ... Jesus Christ. He is not only the reason for the season, regardless of what many in our nation are trying to turn this season into, but he is the reason for our very existence and the greatest gift we've ever been given. He is the hope of the world, given for us, waiting for us with open arms.

God also created us in our mother's womb, giving us the gift of life. If you're reading this, thankfully, your umbilical cord didn't choke you on the way out of that womb and you weren't aborted before making your grand entry into this world. God gave us life and gave His life for us. He is the reason we are here. He is the who we celebrate this season and he gives us the why we can celebrate this season with our family and friends. All because a little babe, born in a manger, had divine purpose and us in mind, we have much to celebrate.

In addition to Jesus and the breath of life, family and friends are other invaluable gifts we've all been given for which we must continually remember to be grateful for. Even if we love to give, we must remember, whether we slide the credit card till the strip wears out buying others gifts this Christmas or not, they love us. If they are truly family who are also friends and friends who are like family, then regardless of what we buy them their heart will never turn away from us. Gratitude for them is best expressed by giving our hearts, prayers, love, time and attention to them. Grace to do this, despite the rocky times that may come, is readily available to us if we have Christ. His grace is sufficient.

No matter how hard the holiday gathering may be for some who have problematic relatives in the clan, it is by grace you have been saved, through faith. Faith can get you through until your next injection of grace takes full effect in your heart and attitude. Until grace kicks in, keep silent. A silent night is better than a dysfunctional one. Grace can annihilate your inner Grinch, so stock up on Jesus (who is grace) before, during and after any potentially hazardous encounters and grace will be easier to extend.

Grace and gratitude. Two little words with great big impact. Were it not for grace, where would we be on this cold winter's night? Were it not for Jesus (who is grace), what would we have done by now?

Were we incapable of having gratitude how would we be by now? Bitter? Angry? Depressed? If any of these things describe your current state or are nasty negatives that can creep up on you and turn you into the Grinch at the holidays (for whatever reason) then remember all you have to be thankful for. If you have computer access to read this article, you likely have a roof over your head and eyes to read. Two little words, with great big impact. Roof and eyes. If you know Him, Jesus is your covering and if you can see how valuable that is, you are rich, blessed and loved. Loving as He first loved us, extending grace as He did to us and abiding in a constant state of gratitude is a recipe for success.

Many have no one. Many have nothing. Many are hoping to merely survive another day. So even if Uncle Grinch or Aunt Scrooge barge into the family dinner with angst and another stale fruitcake, you're probably far more blessed than the one who has to celebrate their first Christmas with family, but without a loved one who has departed or tell their kids they can't buy much of anything this year. And if the latter is you, then praise God you have other loved ones beside you to walk you through this time and kids to have to tell that to. He who has Jesus, family and friends and grace and gratitude is blessed beyond measure.

Make it a very merry Christmas (and a merry life) by fully embracing grace and gratitude at all times and you'll never really be lonely or lacking any good thing. Jesus can soften any heart, family and friends can warm any heart and grace and gratitude can squelch any Grinch. Tis' the season to be jolly ... and gracefully grateful.

Photo Credit: David Sprague / Universal Studios, California

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