There is something about this time of year that makes me feel as if I have a warm blanket of happiness wrapped around my heart. Maybe it’s my heightened gratefulness for life that is making everything seem brighter, warmer and more exciting this year. But the moment I plunged my arms elbow-deep into my boxes of Christmas decorations and smelled the familiar cinnamon and spice from candles stored away from last year, I wanted to remember and take a deep breath of everything.

This Christmas, the things I want are non-material. I have a personal list, but here are my top five:

  1. To be surrounded by those I love

This year has been the hardest season I’ve ever had to endure. But I have been blessed through it all with an amazing family and friends who have held me, stood with me in prayer and in strength, and I want to just spend time with those who have really been an example of God’s love and grace.

2. To rest and relax

Even though this has been a season of forced rest, I have decided to fully surrender and be renewed by it. I want to experience healing and restoration this Christmas, and be able to stand tall into the new year and say, “See what God has done? The glory is all His!” 30635_The_Greenhouse

3. To believe again

I want to hear God’s voice as He leads and opens doors. I want to see those dreams I had locked up in my heart be dusted off and given new life.

4. To give back

Making a meal with a friend, sitting on the couch with a hot cup of tea, letting our laughter and heart-sharing be the best medicine for the both of us. I want to find ways to bless others in meaningful, soul-fueling ways. God has allowed me to have some of the deepest, enduring and life-giving friendships, and I never want to take them for granted.

5. To really reflect on Christ and the reason we celebrate Christmas

From Advent devotionals to worship songs with a Christmas message, I’m determined to focus on Jesus and the incredible story of His birth. To think that God came in the flesh to save a dying world from itself…Christmas is a season of miracles and sacrificial love at its core.

I pray your holiday season is filled with shining eyes, laughter, glitter, beauty and above all—the hope that comes from the love of Christ. Merry Christmas.