As we head into the Christmas season it can be hard to maintain our peace of mind as we’re bombarded with so many advertisements and “last time” offers. This season, I challenge you not to take the bait of the media and the marketing, but instead focus your attention on the miraculous gift of Jesus and learn from him.

My mother has a glow about her that inspires people of all ages because she had some wonderful influences in her life that taught her about Jesus. She then passed that faith and wisdom on to me. Although things were far from perfect in our home when I was growing up, we always had a solid foundation of love and forgiveness that only God could provide.

Can you think of someone in your life who radiates that kind of warmth? Perhaps someone from your childhood? I’m so glad I took the time to go to my high school reunion this past fall in Pennsylvania. To be greeted with big smiles and warm hugs is good for the soul…it’s rejuvenating. While visiting my hometown, right near Philadelphia, we took a breathtaking visit to Valley Forge Historical Park, where the soldiers gathered and encamped during the Revolutionary War in 1777-1778. Pictured here is our first president, George Washington, as he prays to God for divine intervention during that long and cold winter. Thank God, on more than one occasion, he received that intervention. I keep this painting by my bedside right where I kneel and pray.

Recently, I lost a great friend, Trip Gruver. Trip was as warm hearted and creative as they come and directed many light-hearted commercials for Pampers, Huggies and even Michelin Tires. He was awarded multiple Emmys and the prestigious Clio Award for innovative and creative excellence. Ten years ago, he produced a heart-wrenching film entitled, “Grateful Nation?” The eye-opening film is about homeless veterans. I pondered, what could be accomplished if we could all tune in to how to improve the homeless population? That would be something worth watching on the news and getting involved with. At the end of Trip’s film, a veteran, even though penniless, said he would do it all again for US, all of us, The citizens of the United States of America.

I am speaking, and wrote a book, for a good reason…a BIG WHY. Having four kids of my own, and a deep concern for others, I want to see our country not only survive, but thrive. I’ve had lots of practice within my own family unit, and trust me, I know how hard it is to fine tune it. When we’ve encountered turbulence, it’s often due to an inability to communicate clearly, understand the other, forgive and reconcile. So, not only do I feel compelled to help save lives from rip currents in the ocean, after surviving one on two separate occasions, but every time I hear of someone losing their life due to depression, anxiety, riots and fear, I want to help. I ask God, “what can I do here?”

In order to help myself get in a brighter mood, I pay close attention to what makes me smile and what eases the tension for a while. My musical and organizational skills help me share what I am discovering in a fun and creative way. Most of all, I’m trusting God to pave the way.

To anyone who struggles, especially this time of year, I’m hoping this letter will bring you good cheer. It’s hard for me to hear the Christmas songs, shop, gather and get along. Sometimes, to me, it just seems all wrong. That’s only until I focus on Jesus in the manger and see him growing up and sacrificing his life to save us all…please don’t make him a stranger.

One of the many things I’m most grateful for this year is the streaming television series called The Chosen. What really helps me through the day is having something to look forward to in a big way. On days when I’m feeling just a bit down, I remember I could watch The Chosen for yet another round.

The Chosen is well done and will speak to anyone. Any religion, age, healthy or sick…each episode will make your heart expand. In the last episode so far, Jesus prepares for the Sermon on the Mount. It’s simple to explain. Once I start watching my mood is completely changed. I want to read my Bible, study and apply…this show is anointed, no one can deny.

Our country is divided and it would be nice to reconcile. We can’t go back and change what happened, we can only respond from here with better style. Recently, I was told I had cancer and they had to cut it out. After losing a chunk of my right buttocks, I was told they got it all and to simply follow-up. I had to wait a week to hear that information, so putting my strategies to the test offered great revelation. Every negative, scary thought, I countered with appreciation, and most importantly, I believe in a better destination.

While we’re here on earth, who is someone to look up to and model their behavior? The Sermon on the Mount, is a great map to lead us to the savior. Matthew chapter five, is where the message starts and you can decide where to finish. Once you start reading, your worries will diminish. Jesus describes the traits he looks for in his followers and lives out the best example of each. He is the person who practiced what he preached. I’ll sum it up a little here with my interpretation, but encourage you to jump right in and make this Christmas the best celebration.

Whatever we have been through, we are forgiven and always loved. Be patient, ask for guidance, make sure to tune in up above. God blesses those who are poor in spirit because they realize their need for him. He comforts those who mourn and can repair a heart that’s torn.

The humble appreciate and enjoy the earth and its majesty. God satisfies those who hunger and thirst for justice to reduce calamity. God forgives those who forgive and blesses those whose hearts are right. God blesses those who work for peace, and if they get mocked, they’ll turn right around and wash their mockers feet.

Be like salt on the earth, keeping the world from decay, adding seasoning, and making others thirst healing. Shine with love for all of the world to see. When you’re feeling low, fix your eyes on Jesus and watch him charge your battery. Knowing that God’s got your back, makes it easier to hold your tongue back.

God’s purpose will be achieved as we reconcile. Settle your differences quickly so you can be free from grief and instead laugh and smile. Keep your heart warm. Don’t be the judge. Make a vow to trust God and let him wade us through the sludge.

God knows what we need, even before we ask him. Take your eyes off of a worldly treasure, and he’ll give you more than you can even measure. Put all of your hope and love on God, making him your only master, especially through any disaster.

Ask, seek, knock and the right door will be opened. God’s gateway is narrow, but worth putting your hope it. When we put our hope, faith, eyes, time, talents, and attention on Jesus, we’ll be standing on solid rock. If time is your concern, he’ll even stop the clock. When the rain pours down and the floods go up, if the end is near, or you lose someone dear, cast your cares and lighten your load. Stand with him on the golden road.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and down, this is a wonderful way to turn your mood around. You won’t be able to please everyone, but it helps to keep your faith in God’s one and only son.

I’m grateful for the time that I got to share with Trip. I’m counting on him to direct us from above, and help us cover the earth with lots of love.

Merry Christmas to all.
With all of my heart,
Donna Bollinger

Break That Grip…Lessons From The Ocean of Life
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