I am so happy to welcome another KY writer to my blog. Sheila and I met at the 2014 ACFW conference and hit it off right away. She has written a very personal, timely, and helpful guest post, so let’s join her.
Overcoming the Holiday Blues
by Shelia Stovall
God blessed me with a cheerful outlook, however, since the death of my parents, I struggle with a deep sadness during the holidays, and it’s an effort for me to demonstrate Christmas joy.
Sometimes it’s a smell, such as wood smoke, that triggers the oncoming gloom, or a taste may prompt my December malady. My younger sister bakes Mom’s chess cake and I can barely swallow a small bite for the lump in my throat when I sample the familiar flavor.
This year, a song elicited the oncoming heaviness. On Sunday, our church congregation sang, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and memories of Mom’s beautiful voice singing the Christmas hymn made my chest tighten. I sat on the pew and thought, “The darkness is coming.” My spirit plummeted.
Our pastor asked us to turn in our Bibles to John, 1:5. I located the scripture and noticed a handwritten note in the margin. “The darkness will not overcome me because I have the light.” I closed my eyes and prayed, “Thank you, Jesus.”
I suppose my bruised heart will never completely heal while I walk this earth. But I have hope because I have the light of Jesus.
Jesus warned us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…” John 10:10. That’s why it’s important to put on the armor of God. Listed below is a list of the top ten things that help me shine His light through the Christmas season.
- Read scripture daily.
- Start the day with prayer.
- Be generous. If you can afford to leave a box of canned goods on the doorstep of someone in need, do it. This always makes me feel blessed and thankful.
- Seek ways to be kind to everyone you meet. Some of my favorites include: Offering someone to check-out ahead of you when standing in a long checkout line. Cut out coupons from Sunday’s paper, wander through the store and match up coupons to shoppers. When passing through the drive-through, pay the bill for the person behind you.
- Sing! When I’m feeling sad, I sing “Joy to the World” as loud as I can in the car.
- Be a friend: Take the time to visit a senior adult and take a coffee cake with you.
- Go caroling with family and friends. If your church doesn’t do this, organize a group to go Christmas Caroling to shut-ins. It does not matter if you can’t carry a tune.
- Buy a box of candy canes for $1.00 and pass them out to strangers with “The Legend of the Candy Cane.
- Pack a shoebox for Operations Christmas Child.
- Count your blessings.
I hope you’ll try my list and let me know if these activities lift your spirit. My prayer for you is that you receive the greatest gift that has ever been given. When you accept Jesus into your heart, the darkness will never overcome you.
Shelia Stovall is a Southern, small-town librarian and knows what women like to read. She is a member of ACFW, secretary of the Middle Tennessee ACFW chapter, a member of the Kentucky Public Library Association, and the American Library Association.
Her short story, The Barber’s Sanctuary, won the fiction division of Kentucky Monthly’s sixth annual Writer’s Showcase in the November 2013 issue. The Frankfort-based Kentucky Monthly circulates about 45,000 copies. Shelia is a weekly columnist for the Citizen-Times, based in Scottsville, Kentucky.
Shelia’s Southern, small-town roots have given her an understanding of community and women’s friendships. Her writing deals with difficult contemporary issues, but there’s always a thread of hope amid the calamity. Characters in her stories share friendship, hope, and fried fruit pies. Readers will discover there’s a fruit for every season. “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” Galatians 5:22-23.
Shelia is passionate about African missions and has travelled to Africa annually for the past four years. Community service is also important to Shelia, and she has volunteered as a crew chief for the past five years at Camp Habitat, (a Christian youth service camp that partners with Habitat for Humanity).
Her husband, Michael Stovall, has been her best friend for thirty-two years. Shelia’s two adult children live in neighboring communities, and her favorite pastime is spending time with her two adorable grandsons, Matthew and Jacob.
To read more of Shelia’s stories, visit her garden at www.sheliastovall.com and subscribe to her blog.