When It Doesn’t Feel Like Christmas

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

By Shelly Beach

When we hear the word “Christmas,” our minds typically run to festivities, food, family, gifts, and gatherings. But for many people, Christmas can feel far from joyful. The realities of life ultimately bring separation, grief, loss, brokenness, and other challenges. Physical, relational, and circumstantial blows can overwhelm us. We may  feel we don’t have the strength to face the holiday season and be tempted to withdraw from those who want to offer support.

The Christmas blues can also come from harried schedules, unmet expectations, busted budgets, shopping burn-out, and the pressure that comes with gathering imperfect and unique family members under one roof.

Many of my friends are separated from their loved ones at Christmas. One friend’s husband just received word of an advanced stage recurrence of his cancer. Another dear friend’s husband recently left her–and took the kids. And a beloved couple I know is facing potential homelessness after discovering their new home is infested with toxins.

Where do we draw comfort during the holiday season, when the world seems to be celebrating?

Psalm 19:7-8 tells us that God’s Word is sure and reassures our soul: “”The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul . . . the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart . . . ” God never leaves us. He is for us. He promises to bring good out of the messes of our life. When life looks like chaos, we can trust His love.

Isaiah 9:6 tells us

“For unto us a child is born,

to us a son is given,

and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

True comfort comes in knowing Jesus came to be God with us in our sorrow and pain.

Jesus placed Himself among strangers in a filthy world of disease, dysfunction, deception, and despair. Why? To experience our pain, to walk among us, to take on human form so He could truly know us. But God’s Son ultimately traded heavenly perfection for earthly brokenness so He could be crushed by the weight of the corporate sins of the world–an agony we cannot possibly imagine.

Christmas is about love so great that God chose the pain of the world.

Immanuel. God with us. God, who was born in a chilly, damp barn in the cold, rainy winter season. God, whose first breaths were of dirt and dung, a new mother who did not know the luxury of a shower, and a father’s work-roughened hand upon his face.

This is Christmas–God with us, in the blood, sweat, and tears of this world.

Our Savior.

Our Wonderful Counselor, who gives us wisdom for the asking.

Our Mighty God, who has already won our battles for us.

Our Everlasting Father, who offered His only Son to die in our place so we could live in freedom.

Our Prince of Peace, who offers forgiveness, reconciliation, and security in the storms of life.

Glory to God in the highest.

 

As a gift to you, please listen to the song “It Doesn’t Feel Like Christmas This Year,” written by Steve Siler, founder and Executive Director of MusicfortheSoul.org. To play the song, click HERE, then click on the Preview button at the bottom of the screen.

Music for the Soul, Healing for the Heart

 Music

I’m so excited…

A phenomenal new book is releasing May 11th–a book written by one of my best and most respected friends, Steve Siler, founder and director of MusicfortheSoul.org.

I don’t want to brag, but I just received my copy of Music for the Soul, Healing for the Heart. While the book chronicles the miraculous story of Steve’s Dove Award-winning songwriting journey that ultimately culminated in his founding MusicfortheSoul.org, the book is much, much more.

Music for the Soul, Healing for the Heart captures the captivating, healing, God-inspired power of music to reclaim and transform lives. 

Using the evocative vehicle of sstory, this book gives a glimpse into the healing power of music. MusicfortheSoulMusic for the Soul, Healing for the Heart relates the true-life events of how God called Steve from among West Coast’s musical elite to Nashville’s gospel and contemporary Christian music scene, where Steve would win the highest awards in Christian songwriting. But he would leave that world to follow his passion and create a ministry that focuses on soul-healing music that binds the broken and hopeless.

Music for the Soul, Healing for the Heart tells how God led Steve on a journey through pop music and culture, to contemporary Christian music, then to ministry-focused music that focuses solely on songs crafted to help the broken heal. Steve’s songs are written for parents of special needs children, for those who have lost their homes to natural disasters, for those who have been sexually abused, for those who have been trafficked, for those who have experienced cancer, for caregivers, for military and law enforcement officers, for those who have lost loved ones to suicide, for those who have lost children to the pain of abortion.

Music for the Soul, Healing for the Heart is not a book simply about music or ministry. It is a book about broken people, hope, and healing.

I recommend this book to anyone who has ever felt broken, known or loved anyone who has felt broken, or who works with broken people. I recommend this book to those who love music, to those who love musicians, and to those who want to better understand the God-given power of music to restore hearts. I recommend this book to anyone who has felt called to follow God’s passion for their life and followed that call in spite of the risk. And I recommend this book to those looking for well-written inspirational, God-honoring reading.

Shelly Beach

Multiple award-winning author, speaker, consultant
ShellyBeachonline.com
PTSDPerspectives.org

Porn, Pastors, and Cultural Needs in the Church

med-1044-depressionAccording to a report filed by Mira Oberman for Yahoo News on September 11, 2015, a U.S. pastor committed suicide six days after his name was exposed by hackers of the Ashley Madison website.

Unfortunately, this tragic news shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who understands the realities of an imperfect church.

Reverend Jonathan Pearson, Pastor at Cornerstone Community Church and co-creator of MillennialLeader.com,  states:

“Pornography is the most pervasive and destructive issue facing our generation today.”

We live in a society saturated with sensual images. These images have invaded our homes through print media such as newspapers, magazines, the Internet, cable TV, and  network TV. Advancements in technology have led to pornography being more accessible today than it has ever been. Porn can be accessed easily by any web enabled cell phone.

Recent surveys indicate that more than 50% of men and 25% of women within the church are addicted to Internet pornography. This includes, pastors, who are afraid to bring their secret into the light for fear of being fired from their positions or shamed as failures.

But churches need to be places where we can share our brokenness and find restoration, accountability, and healing.

1. People, including staff, should publicly talk about brokenness and how they found healing and restoration.

2. Pastors can create cultures of transparency by talking about their own lives.

3. Pastors should preach about sex and sexually related topics.

4. The church should equip parents to talk to their kids about sex and how to teach their kids about sex. This goes far beyond the “sex talk” and should begin before kids hit ten. Sex education today must include culturally relevant topics like sexual identity in an era of sexual confusion.

5. Pastors should encourage accountability and use of Internet filters, such as Covenant Eyes.

6. Pastors should encourage counseling, and whenever possible, include qualified Christian counselors a part of church staff.

7. The church should encourage spouses to share passwords to all computers, tablets, phones, etc.

For seven steps on how to integrate teaching on sex in your church, CLICK HERE.

Tributes to John Gibson poured in from students and faculty who remembered him as a kind, generous man who repaired students’ vehicles in his spare time.

“John was a popular member of our the college faculty,” seminary president Chuck Kelley said in an obituary posted on the school’s blog.

“He was particularly known for his acts of kindness to the seminary family. He was the quintessential good neighbor.”

Into the Light Miistries offers resources, including seminars and  for those within the church who are struggling with porn addiction. For more information contact info@intothelightministries.net.

MusicForTheSoul.org also offers resources such as She’s Somebody’s Daughter, a music video that addresses the topic of pornography. Watch a clip HERE.

Suicide and the Church: Shelly, Sue Foster, and Kay Warren on KFAX

This Tuesday, November 18th, I’ll be part of a discussion on Suicide and the Church: Hope for the Hopeless on KFAX San Francisco with counselor and authors Sue Foster and Kay Warren. Please join us at 5:00pm Pacific on Life!Line with host Craig Roberts. You can listen in HERE.

Kay Warren

Kay Warren

Kay Warren, co-founder of Saddleback Church with her husband Rick, is an international speaker, best-selling author and Bible teacher who has a passion for inspiring and motivating others to make a difference with their lives.She is best known for her 10 years as a tireless advocate for those living with HIV and AIDS, and the orphaned and vulnerable children left behind. As an advocate, she has traveled to 19 countries, calling the faith community as well as the public and private sectors to respond with prevention, care, treatment and support of people living with the virus. She is the author of several books, including her newest, Choose Joy, Because Happiness Isn’t Enough (Revell, April 2012).

On November 22, Saddleback Church will co-sponsor Survivors of Suicide Loss and Suicide Prevention Day, beginning at 9am. The conference is also available online here. Click on the link to participate  and gain valuable resources about the warning signs of suicide, how to help someone with suicidal thoughts, and valuable resources. The link will go live on Saturday the 22nd, Pacific Time.

 

Sue Foster

Sue Foster

Sue (Suzanne) Foster is co-author of Finding Your Way after the Suicide of Someone You Lovewith David B. Biebel. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in grief counseling in southern California. Sue speaks at workshops, retreats, and conferences. She has worked with the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network, as well as with MusicfortheSoul.org, as well as organizations that work to end human trafficking.

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Post from Steve Siler on Miley Cyrus at the VMAs

somebodysdaughter

She’s Somebody’s Daughter. 

What emotions do those words evoke for you?

As a consultant on post-traumatic stress disorder, I field calls and emails every week from women who are victims of sexual abuse. Without fail, those women were victimized by people who treated them like commodities and animals–not humans with value and dignity.

But turn on the television at night, look at popular video games, or glance at print media, and you’ll see that our culture  has normalized violence, misogyny, rape and all forms of degradation of women.

Miley Cyrus’ recent performance at the VMA Awards has brought recent attention to our true values in culture. A guest post by Steve Siler, founder and president of Music for the Soul, and developer of the She’s Somebody’s Daughter national initiative launching this fall in Oklahoma City, shared his views in a guest post with the Christian Post. See the complete article here. The article is excerpted below:

After spending twenty years making celebrities out of people who degrade and sexualize young women, who push the boundaries of morality and good taste, how can we now pretend to be shocked by Miley Cyrus’ performance at the VMAs?

Think about the first time you walked by a Victoria’s Secret in the mall. Perhaps you were shocked. Even outraged. But what about the last time you walked by? Did you even notice? Vulgarity has become the background noise of our culture. While we don’t pay much attention, rest assured that young girls drink in these fantasy photo-shopped images and think they have to look and act like that to be considered beautiful, valuable or current.

Meanwhile body image and self-esteem issues are causing our daughters to develop eating disorders, act out in self-harm behaviors like cutting and burning, and abuse substances to numb their pain.

Studies are showing girls and young women in our culture increasingly think their appearance is more important than anything they can achieve through academics, athletics or the arts.

At the same time Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit edition – where the only thing missing is the swimsuit – tells our boys this is what women are supposed to look like.

We are a culture that welcomes shows like “Mistresses” and pretends not to notice that “Game of Thrones” is pornography. We are a culture that names a family restaurant “Hooters.”

We are culture that sells video “games” to our teenage boys where they have to act out raping women to “win.”

Now let’s throw in the Internet, where the previously unthinkable is only a few clicks away. Misogyny, child pornography and bestiality are available 24/7 in an unending flood of dehumanizing filth.

But still, every now and then, we pretend to be shocked? Let’s face facts. As a culture, the “shocked” ship has sailed.

Yes, Miley’s performance was sad. The lyrics to her song “What We Want” make me long for the good old days of “Like a Virgin” in whose first verse Madonna sings “You make me feel shiny and new.” Tame stuff.

Even more sad and pathetic was Robin Thicke’s participation. As blogger Regie Hamm put it, “Grinding on a messed up kid like that doesn’t make you cool …it makes you creepy.”

I’m with Regie on this one. But here’s the deal: This is where we are.

We are in a culture that makes objects out of women – and children. As a culture, we send the clear message that they are objects to be used for our own selfish sexual pleasure. We make celebrities out of children like Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Bynes and Miley Cyrus only to gleefully revel in the carnage when they come off the rails.

So if this is where we are – and it is – the only question remaining is what do we do now?

What do parents and grandparents do now? What do responsible businesses and advertisers do now? What do young people who want to grow up in a culture that esteems them for who they are do now?

What can we do to create a culture that treats women with respect and dignity? How do we teach our young men what it means to honor a woman and treat her like a lady? How do we say that sex is meant to be special and private rather than prurient and public?

I suggest we start by asking one simple question: If you wouldn’t want your daughter to be in a pornographic film, why would you want it for anybody’s daughter? More to the current point, if you wouldn’t want your daughters making obscene gestures and grinding against someone else’s husband, why would you allow someone else’s daughter to do it in your living room via your TV?

My point is that every girl and every woman is somebody’s daughter, and it’s time that we start acting like it. Turn the channel on shows that degrade women. Don’t spend your dollars on magazines that celebrate the unraveling of child stars. Talk to your kids about the images they see as you walk together through the mall.

I shudder to think about what comes next if this devolution of culture continues.

It boggles the mind.

Let’s awaken the heart in all of us that cares about our own loved ones – and that wants what’s best for everybody’s child. After all…

She’s somebody’s daughter.
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/miley-cyrus-at-vma-can-we-stop-pretending-to-be-shocked-103309/#xZU4luOikuivFbbv.99

A Gift of Hope for Those in Oklahoma

oklahomatornado-screen

In the aftermath of the disaster in Oklahoma, Steve Siler of Music for the Soul would like to offer the following message of comfort from his project After the Storm. After the Storm was written in the days after Hurricane Katrina to offer comfort to survivors. The message is timeless, and Steve extends the words and music again as a message of hope, extended in the name of Jesus.

To listen to or download the song, click on the Music for the Soul link above, then the title of the song on the page.

NOT TOO FAR FROM HERE

Words & Music by Ty Lacy & Steve Siler

Somebody’s down to their last dime
Somebody’s running out of time
Not too far from here
Somebody’s got nowhere else to go
Somebody needs a little hope
Not too far from here
and I may not know their names
But I’m praying just the same
That you’ll use me Lord to wipe away a tear
‘Cause somebody’s crying
Not too far from here
Somebody’s troubled and confused
Somebody’s got nothing left to lose
Not too far from here
Somebody’s forgotten how to trust
Somebody’s dying for love
Not too far from here
It may be a stranger’s face
But I’m praying for your grace
To move in me and take away the fear
‘Cause somebody’s hurting
Not too far from here
Help me Lord not to turn away from pain
Help me not to rest while those around me weep
Give me your strength and compassion
When somebody finds the road of life too steep
Now I’m letting down my guard
and I’m opening my heart
Help me speak your love to every needful ear
Jesus is waiting
Not too far from here
Jesus is waiting
Not too far from here

© 1993 Shepherd’s Fold Music / Ariose Music (Administered by EMI Christian Music Publishing)

How the Dignity Project for Caregivers Can Help You Feel Less Alone

Dignity CoverI’m privileged to be a caregiving expert for Caring.com, the leading online destination for family caregivers seeking information, support, in-home care, and senior living options for aging parents, spouses and other loved ones. Caring.com‘s mission is to equip others. They equip family caregivers to make better decisions, save time and money, and feel less alone — and less stressed — as they face the many challenges of caregiving.

As part of their mission, Caring.com evaluates products and services that are helpful to caregivers. Recently, Caring.com reviewed the Dignity Project for Caregivers. Caregiving for an aging loved one is a different experience for each person. Whether caring in the early or late stages of life, it’s always great to be reminded that, as a caregiver, you are not alone. Many Caring.com members are able to gain encouragement through constant contact with other caregivers via online support groups. Another option is the Dignity CD, a compilation of songs and stories to help caregivers feel less alone. Here, find out what the panel of family caregivers thought about Dignity.

What Is the Dignity Project?

Dignity is a compilation of music and spoken word selections directed at caregivers of adults. It can be purchased as a CD or listened to as an MP3 through the CD’s website. The songs and stories cover many dimensions of caregiving, with the perspectives of generations of family caregivers, paid caregivers, and others.As a caregiver for more than a dozen years, as well as a caregiving expert, I encourage you to visit Caring.com and check out their wide-ranging, vital resources for caregivers, as well as their review of the Dignity Project for Caregivers