Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Next Year Will Be Different

Leslie Basham: Here's what the Christmas season used to be like for Kim Wier and her husband.

Kim Wier: It was wild. We would get to the end of it every year and say, "Okay, next year it's going to be different, really, really next year." And there are so many people who say that, but then the year comes and goes and we're saying it again.

Leslie Basham: It's Tuesday, November 30, and you're listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God" (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV).

Those words from 2 Corinthians chapter 1 are important to us during the Christmas season. A lot of people need comfort during this time, and today we'll hear some practical ways to share with others. Here's Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Well, with Christmas now less than four weeks off, my guess, if you're anything like me, is that you are now making lists of your lists and trying to check those things off. And maybe [you're] feeling a little frantic or helter-skelter.

And our goal this week on Revive Our Hearts is to give you a chance to take a deep breath, to stop and ponder as Mary did that first Christmas -- Mary the mother of Jesus.

She took time to treasure these things in her heart and to ponder what God was doing, and I want to encourage you to do that over these next weeks. To help us in that effort are two friends, Pam McCune and Kim Wier, who have written a book we want to encourage you to get this Christmas called Redeeming the Season. The subtitle is Simple Ideas for a Memorable and Meaningful Christmas.

So, Kim and Pam, welcome to Revive Our Hearts and thanks for helping us think through this season.

Pam McCune: Thank you. We love being here.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And one of my favorite sections in your book had to do"¦you call it seasoning your surroundings, but it has to do with using the Christmas season as an opportunity to reach out to people who are needy in different ways.

For example, I know for many the Christmas season is a time of real hurt. It may be the first Christmas that they're going through after having just lost a loved one, and for them this is a painful time of year.

Pam, help us think through how we can reach out and minister to someone who is in that kind of situation.

Pam McCune: You're exactly right, Nancy. What an opportunity we have, where for some of us we're so excited about Christmas but for others, they dread it because it brings back all those memories of the person that is missing, that was in that chair last year or maybe ten years ago, but they're not going to be there this year. And that's a hard time.

And Kim actually experienced this not too long ago. Kim, tell them your story.

Kim Wier: Not long ago we lost two people in our family within three months of each other. My husband's mother passed away in June and then my stepdad, who was the joy in our family, passed away the following September. And it was just a double blow. It was hard.

As we anticipated the joy, we couldn't help but remember that it's going to come with a lot of sorrow. And I remember particularly being very blue walking to the mailbox one day just telling the Lord, "This is too hard. I don't think I can do this." Not only was I grieving for myself, I was grieving for my mother. I was grieving for my children. And it just seemed too big of a load to carry.

And I went to the mailbox and I opened it up and in there was a little note card. I remember looking at the return address on it and it was from an acquaintance, somebody I knew, but not a great close friend. And I remember thinking, Now, what could she want? And I opened up the card and found the greatest gift.

It was just a note that said, "I just want you to know I've been thinking of you. I lost my dad close to Christmas, and I know what you're going through. And my heart breaks for you. And I'm praying every day this season for you and for your mom and for your family." And I just want you to know it was a gift.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: What a gift.

Kim Wier: She just shared scriptures with me that at that moment I didn't even have the strength to go look up God's Word to encourage me, but she shared scriptures that really did revive my heart, that really did give me strength and comfort. And all they were, Nancy, were words on a page. But they were powerful words.

And that she took those few minutes to sit down and write was something that made a difference in my life, made a difference in that week, and really were things I dwelled back on over the season. It was still difficult, but that she cared enough"¦she even shared some memories.

She had known my dad and she shared some memories about him, and that was meaningful to me. And the point is that, you know, just because you're nervous about mentioning the loss to someone doesn't mean we're not thinking about it. We are thinking about it, but we'd much rather share our memories. We'd like to talk about how we're feeling.

And so the encouragement is don't be afraid. Pick up the phone, take a friend to lunch, write a note that can be read and re-read. Reach out with some sweet remembrances to those who have lost someone and help their season.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And I'll tell you, this is especially important for someone who may, yourself, be suffering or hurting. You may be single and feeling that you don't have family to spend Christmas with.

Christmas can be a really blue time for a lot of people, or you may have lost someone, or your family has broken up, and there is opportunity for those of us at seasons of our need to think about others who have needs.

You may be a widow and feeling real alone at this season of life, but there is someone else that God has put in your path whose hurt may be fresher, more recent than your own. And God has comforted you over your time of loss, and now is an opportunity for you to think of others who are hurting and suffering and to reach out to them during this time.

Pam McCune: And it's such a double blessing because you may be giving to them, but God gives back to you (in such ways) when you get your eyes off your hurt and look in and love on someone else.

And you know, Nancy, it can be as simple as knowing a child that's lost a grandparent and writing them a note. Maybe you saw that they were in a play or a school musical and saying, "I know your grandmother would be proud of you. You did a great job and you are special."

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And you know it's not just people who are hurting, but I'll tell you another group of people I think can be very lonely during this time, and that's the elderly. And in your book you talk about some ways that we can reach out and minister encouragement and grace to those who are older.

Pam McCune: It can be a very hard season because you can do a lot from putting up a tree, to putting out lights, to feeling like wrapping gifts -- things that are harder to do as your body doesn't function the way you want it to function as you get older.

And so stop to think, Who's around me that I can give out to? Who's a neighbor that maybe I can go wrap gifts for or maybe put up their tree?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Tell us how you did the "wrap it up night." I thought that was a great idea.

Kim Wier: This is fun. You can send a note to an elderly neighbor. It could even be somebody just with a physical disability that, you know, there are going to be special challenges at the holidays, but they still want to participate.

Send a note that says, "Wrap It Up Night. Our family would like to come and share the holiday with you. We would love to come and help you with holiday chores, like gift wrapping or putting up lights or decorating your tree or baking goodies. We're going to call you to see when would be convenient." 

And then do follow up. After they've had a chance to see what you put in your letter, that you want to come and spend time with them, call them and ask, "When would be a good time?"

Make an appointment. But then when you plan to go, don't go thinking, I'm going to check off these things and do them and leave.

Your companionship is an incredible gift. Go with scissors, go with tape, go with wrapping paper, go with hot chocolate, maybe a portable CD player with Christmas or praise music. Go for a time of fellowship. And while you're there, help them do some of those chores that will take a little bit of the burden off them and help them to enjoy their Christmas a little more. It can really be a blessing for everyone.

Pam McCune: And you know, Nancy, along with that we think of single moms and that sometimes it can be an overwhelming time. One, just thinking about putting up that tree by herself, How am I going to do that or maybe even shopping, How do I shop when the kids are with me? And so you can step out and reach out to anyone around you that you think might need a little help.

Kim Wier: Be creative. Give her a coupon for two hours of babysitting so she can shop. Have your husband and son show up to be their Christmas tree setup crew. You know, the things that, really, they could use the extra hands for. It's just having God's eyes to see.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And, again, let me say as a single woman, this is something that you can really enter into. One of my most fun memories took place years ago. I got some friends together, a family who had three children at the time, and during the Christmas season we went together to a grocery store and said, "We want to get some groceries tonight for some families we know who have some financial needs and they're not able to get as many groceries as they would need."

And we each, the family of five and myself, we each got a grocery cart and picked one member of the family we wanted to give something to and each went through that grocery store filling our cart with things we thought would be meaningful.

Kim Wier: It was probably a fun adventure.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Those children, who are now grown and two of them married themselves, they still look back on that as one of the most fun things they ever did, and it was giving. It's really helping to cut at the heart of the selfishness that becomes so much a part of our Christmas celebrations so often.

Pam McCune: I bet they loved it so much that they started a tradition in their families.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: They probably will. They don't have their own children yet, but they will be doing that kind of thing. It really did make a mark on them.

Kim Wier: But you know something else you can do is, if you know a single mom, who do you think takes those children shopping for her? And so that's even a gift. Just say, "I'd like to kidnap your kids for a little while," without even telling her what you're going to do. And then either help them make special gifts that she will not know about that really will be a surprise or take them shopping -- little things, just thinking creatively.

Pam McCune: And I love that you did this not too long ago, Kim, for a mom when it was her birthday and her son was there and you knew the dad wasn't in the picture. And you had him shop around your house. But you had him first work in your house so he could earn the money and feel like it was from him. And then he got to give her his very own gift that he worked for.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: When you think about what Christmas really is, it's God reaching down across that infinite gap from heaven to earth to poor, needy, helpless, lonely, sinful, wounded people (that's what we all are) and then saying, "I love you and here's Good News for you. I came to help you, to save you." What could be more practical in meeting our needs than that?

And really when we reach out to others in this way, we are incarnating Christmas, the Gospel. We're representing the heart and the spirit of God, the ultimate giver.

Kim Wier: And the goal would be not that they would look at us and go, "Aren't they great. Aren't they magnanimous to do these things." But the goal would be that they would look at us and they would go, "Christ! Christ in them. Look how good God is that He would meet my need." We're just a vessel.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: And we're pointing them to Jesus. So here's what I want you to do. If you've been listening to us today, I want you to make a list. Ask the Lord, say, "Lord, who is in my life -- it is a single mom, it is a neighbor who is elderly, it is a widow, someone living on a limited income" -- just ask the Lord to show you one or two or three people that He is putting on your heart. And say, "Lord, how can I reach out, how can I show them the Gospel with my hands, with my heart, with my time, with my attention."

And as you draw your children and your family into doing this, you'll be training and discipling them in demonstrating the giving, ministering heart of Christ. So make the list and then say, "Lord, how do You want me to reach out to those people?"

Leslie Basham: The book by our guests, Kim Wier and Pam McCune, offers a lot of practical ways that we can reach out. It's called Redeeming the Season. If you'd like to order a copy, you can visit our Web site, ReviveOurHearts.com.

When you do reach out, would you let us know what happens? We'd love to hear how you're redeeming this Christmas season. And would you consider helping us to reach out. It costs money to get the message of Revive Our Hearts into the homes and cars of women. We're able to do it because our listeners give. It's an important time for you to contact us because a friend to the ministry will match every gift that comes in up to $250,000.

In order for your donation to be doubled, you need to get it in before the end of the year. You can also call 1-800-569-5959. That's 1-800-569-5959.

Tomorrow we'll hear about the power of hospitality during the holiday season. I hope you can be back on the next Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

Thank you, Susie, for preparing today's Revive Our Hearts for the Internet.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.