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Bonnie Gray is author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest, garnering starred review praise from Publisher's Weekly, named as one of PW's top 6 notable new religion authors. Bonnie is a featured contributor at (in)courage and her writing is nationally syndicated, spotlighted by Relevant Magazine, Catalyst Leadership, Today's Christian Woman, and Christianity Today. A UCLA graduate, Bonnie has been a missionary, ministry entrepreneur and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. Bonnie serves up shots of faith for the daily grind on her blog Faith Barista.com. Bonnie lives in Northern California with her husband Eric and their two sons.

Loose Ends at Christmas? Open Your Heart to Real Peace

Bonnie Gray
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Bonnie Gray is author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest, garnering starred review praise from Publisher's Weekly, named as one of PW's top 6 notable new religion authors. Bonnie is a featured contributor at (in)courage and her writing is nationally syndicated, spotlighted by Relevant Magazine, Catalyst Leadership, Today's Christian Woman, and Christianity Today. A UCLA graduate, Bonnie has been a missionary, ministry entrepreneur and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. Bonnie serves up shots of faith for the daily grind on her blog Faith Barista.com. Bonnie lives in Northern California with her husband Eric and their two sons.

Even in the darkest of nights, love is light. Letting the kids stay up on Sunday night. Creating memories.
(Merry Christmas, friends. Let's make Christmas new this year. In us.) 

I have a very special video to share with you today at the end of today's article. I hope it will touch your soul with a comfort and peace, like the warmth of a candle flickering in the window.  Just for you.

We lit up a Christmas tree for the first time Sunday night.

Protestors in Berkeley, California, lit up the streets in violence that same night.

It was both a night of peace and yet, for many enraged over police killings in Ferguson, Missouri and New York, a tide of anger erupted that could not be quelled.

It was my birthday weekend.  And I've always loved how the beginning of my story is wrapped around the Bigger Story of Someone who loved me enough to come for me.  The birth of Jesus.

But, just one hour's drive away from our home in Silicon Valley, where Josh and Caleb were playing hide and seek with ornaments in the boughs of our Christmas tree, hundreds of protestors could not contain the brokenness of their stories -- wrapped in generations upon generations of pain and racism.

Riots broke out into assaults, tear gas and smoke bombs flung into one another from both sides.

The story of our country is bleeding into stories filled with division and ugliness.

Where is the peace?

What is real peace?

It made me think about my own journey.

Loose Ends

There are a lot of loose ends in life, aren't there?

Don't we try to tie them all up during the holiday season?

Don't we try to hide the strife and any ugliness -- in fear we'd ruin Christmas?

But, the mere effort to do that makes it plain to my heart:  there are pieces of my story I can't change.

The truth is that Christmas can only come -- Christmas can only be made new -- if we bring our ruins to Jesus at Christmas.

Because it's only then, when we bring all our broken pieces to Jesus -- that our hearts will be touched by a beauty so quiet, so tender and so real.

Then, the candle we light at Advent will no longer be something we do at Christmas.

We will experience Christmas. In our hearts.

For most of my life, I've held onto a peace that I manufactured -- in order to be okay in my family of origin.

I've ignored the hurt and the pain -- and endured a lot of dysfunction because I thought that's what it  meant to maintain the peace.

I didn't want to be a refugee.

Displaced. Disoriented.

It's always seemed better to hold out manufactured hope -- rather than giving up and becoming an emotional refugee.

This fear of becoming an emotional refugee is the voice of the little child in me.

God doesn't want me to be alone as that little child anymore.

This year, the birth of Jesus tells me He was once a refugee too.

Jesus Was a Refugee

Are you feeling the pressure of expectations this Christmas?  To fit in with the manufactured pictures of peace?  

Jesus sees right into the heart of it all.  He sees our families, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, enemies, our marriages, our children, and our unspoken stories.

We may tempted to manufacture our own peace during this Christmas season, when the pressure of perfection presses in on us.

Real peace from God is not manufactured or even problem-solved.

Real peace from God isn't the absence of darkness.

Real peace from God is Shalom - a putting back together again.

Real Peace from God is a Person -- Jesus who steps into the darkness and whispers --

I love you.

You are mine.

Jesus was born right in the middle of violence -- igniting the anger of Herod to kill an entire city of boys under age two. Jesus died a brutal, violent death, beaten to an inch of His life.

Peace is Jesus who was born and displaced as a refugee. Fleeing in exile to Egypt in the arms of his first-time parents Mary and Joseph. Jesus was a refugee in a world who didn't love Him, know Him or want Him. Marginalized. Crucified on a cross.

Jesus is The One who offers Himself. As a gift of love. To love you and me.

A Refuge

I'm letting go of holding onto a manufactured peace.  And in those secret moments of honesty, I am both afraid and willing. But, even in all this, Jesus is holding onto me. And gently asking me to trust Him, whispering --

Come.

Let me be your refuge.

Let love in.

Make room for love, joy, peace, love. For candles, hot cocoa, the glow of a Christmas tree, a journal, a walk, a hug for a friend, a good cry, a good laugh -- right in the midst of our loose ends.

We're no longer refugees.

Because God is our refuge, love is our new home.

"You alone are my refuge, my place of safety; You are my God, and I trust you." Ps. 91:2

~~~~~

How are you experiencing God in Christmas new this year?

Pull up a chair.  Share your thoughts.  Share a comment below.

I have a very special video to share with you today! It's a fresh take on the story of the birth of Jesus -- told by the people of Bethlehem.

This spoke such beauty, so powerfully to me this month. Click below to watch this amazing, beautiful, soul-inspiring video. Be inspired.  Share this with a friend and warm their heart today!  

{Credits} This is a mini-documentary titled "O Little Town of Bethlehem".  Directed by Tim Parsons. St. Paul's Arts & Media (stpauls.org.nz). 

Jesus Is a Refugee - The Real Meaning of Peace: The Story of the Birth of Jesus

~~~~~

By Bonnie Gray. Bonnie is the soulful author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest, which has garnered starred review praise from Publisher’s Weekly, named as the Top 6 notable new religion authors.  Bonnie blogs at Faith Barista, serving up shots of faith in the daily grind. She writes for DaySpring (in)courage and her work has been spotlighted by Christianity Today, Relevant, Catalyst Leadership and she's After graduating from UCLA, Bonnie served as a missionary, ministry entrepreneur, and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Eric, and their two sons.

For inspiration to create space in your life to breathe, order a copy of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest, which has garnered starred review praise from Publisher’s Weekly.  This memoir-driven guidebook for rest will nurture your heart to draw closer to God. 

*December Special*  Free Gifts with your order. Give the gift of rest to a friend -- and yourself -- this Christmas.  Click here to sign up.

Learn how a life-long dream unexpectedly launched Bonnie into painful childhood memoires to discover a better story of rest. Visit TheBonnieGray.com to learn more. 

"Whitespace is soul grace. Bonnie Gray ushers weary women into the real possibility." - Ann Voskamp, NY Times bestsellng author of One Thousand Gifts

"If you want to hear Jesus speak more tenderly to your soul than ever befrore, this is the book for you." - Lysa TerKeurst, NY Times bestselling author of Unglued

"We live in a culture that brags and boasts about being busy. Into that reality steps Bonnie with a new idea.
Whitespace is an important concept and Bonnie has captured it perfectly. 
-Jon Acuff,NY  Times bestselling author of Start!

*Don't miss!* If you are new to Faith Barista, I'd like welcome you here. Click here to subscribe by email -(free) and get each post in this series served up hot and fresh directly in your mailbox

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