Guys! Winter is finally here! Even though it’s actually, not hear until December 21st, the snow is here!!! I absolutely love the snow! I get more motivated to go outside, to play in the snow, to just fall and slide, make snowballs and throw them towards my loved ones! (You can see a portion of it on my Instagram, @ThePunderfulCounselor, or at my SnapChat, Vlasup115) Yet, it’s different as well, because I get to spend it at Dickson Valley! I’m beyond blessed to be able to serve here, but to also be able to see God’s beauty at work through the changing of the season, man! Not only to see it, but to fall in love with Him over and over again!

Snow means hot chocolate, fires, and most importantly, CUDDLES!!! So, as many of you know, I’m a big parkour enthusiast, and the snow makes room for more confidence, softer ground, and more difficulty in other areas! Definitely felt that today during the stairs today! But it also means it’s getting closer to Christmas, and already to the next year! Whoa now, 2016, where did you go homie? I must be having too much fun, (or pun) because you just came and went away.

While reflecting on this thought, it reminds me to stay in the moment. Too many of us are caught up in the future, myself definitely included, and we don’t take the time to enjoy what our Father in Heaven has blessed us with today! What we have been blessed as presents, presently the presence, of our situations are in right now! Now, it’s not bad to plan things out, but remember to keep in mind of “How can I shed light on someone’s day today?” This question has been on repeat in the back of my head for a little while now, and I try to consciously think of how I can help someone, or make them laugh, encourage them, all with the thought of “Jesus, what would you do?” It’s hard! Jesus said it was not going to be easy, but it was and is definitely worth it! To see a kid smile and laugh, or see someone’s face light up for the first time in a long while, oh man! I can only imagine how our Father thinks about that!

The church I attend here in Illinois, Plano Christian Church, has been such an endearing blessing to me! I have the opportunity to be served and serve with and worship with amazing brothers and sisters in Christ there! They are loving, on fire for Jesus, and it’s been fun getting to know them! This Sunday, we started a new series called “A Simple Christmas” and how “Christmas is complicated, but it shouldn’t have to be.” Talking about the difference between how children and adults see things, and how adults see it so complicated. He said the reason that it changed for him was because it was simple as a kid. It’s complicated as adults to make sure that the last Christmas was better than the last. Why? We tend to spend more money, do more activities, yet, it seems to complicate things even more.
As he was going through the building of his sermon, God gave him a thought; “Christmas is complicated, but it shouldn’t have to be, and it doesn’t have to be” He wraps up the whole Christmas story with John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
He wanted to emphasize the “simpleness” of Christmas. To bring back the origin of Jesus coming. The virgin birth, the shepherds coming, the angels coming, sending the messages.

My thoughts for the last six months have been about choosing joy. Now, my belief about joy and happiness, are that they are different things. Happiness is a feeling, but that feeling is able to go away! Joy is a choice, to see any situation, good or bad, and look for a positive! That in any circumstance, God is able to change it for good! This is hard for me, as it’s a constant internal battle all the time. However, God has been blessing me with strength and endurance to come after Him, intentionally choosing to! To be able to have the thought of God, and how I can see Him variously in variety all day! Man, how could I not shout for joy! To keep singing, laughing, and to continue on, because He’s blessed be better than I deserve! I don’t want to have a wasted moment, no more regrets of “Oh I should have done this.” But rather, to do that in the moment! To give someone a reason to smile, give someone a reason to wonder “Why is this guy so happy?” Perfect, let’s talk about it over coffee! Let me tell you about Jesus, and what He’s done in my life, where He’s rescued me from, how He’s changed me. Here’s my hope; that Jesus gets to be seen first. Sure, you could also misspell my name as well, and you can get Jesus (Jesup) but I desire my character to overflow with Jesus. How can I do that? Constant consciousness of my actions, thoughts, decisions, words. I also hope that I don’t appear judgemental towards someone of different beliefs, because they don’t deserve to be held to a standard that they don’t believe in! That’s dumb, insincere, and just downright inappropriate! We are supposed to love one another, and admonish our brothers and sisters. Judgement is only for the Lord Most High God. But no matter what circumstance, to change the stigma of what a Christian is seen like and called (bigot, judgemental, condemning) and to turn that into what looks like the love of Jesus Christ, to be able to serve like Him. He must increase, and I must decrease (John 3:30). Jesus came to provide them their choice of choosing Him, we cannot make one another choose Jesus!

My question to you is, how are you shedding light into someone’s life today? What about the next today? Also, are you looking for joy? If not, and it’s too difficult, that’s definitely alright! It IS okay to not be okay! Don’t lose hope! There is something! Jesus is here! There may be darkness surrounding, but there is always a light that never goes out!

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