May you experience the love and light of Christ this Christmas and Happy New Year!
Love, Benjamin + Diana
It was 2006, when I sat in church at Bayside, an unfamiliar, not often visited place. I was there because my parents started going, so whenever I’d return to Nor Cal, I’d have to go, most often do to a guilt trip my dad would put on me, “Don’t you want to thank God I’m alive?” he’d ask, referring to this terminal brain lymphoma he overcame years prior. After he survived, he became a Christian.
I had just turned 25 and had grown tired of the emptiness I was feeling – bars, shopping, collecting things, it all just didn’t cut it. I sat listening to Christmas service after worship leader Lincoln Brewster performed and then it was time. It was what I call the Jesus prayer, otherwise known as the salvation prayer. It was that “thing” that you did to suddenly become a Christ follower. My heart ached for it and I didn’t know where to begin, so I repeated the prayer silently with the most open heart, desperate, pleading, asking.
There’s more to the story, there’s miracles that happened, life changing events, and even a man that I would be engaged to that would later call the wedding off three weeks before the date. (This is clearly not the Mr. Wonderful I am married to now). But I speak of these things because it’s my testimony, my life of where God took me and to where he’s taken me. I am not ashamed, saddened or hurt by my past because it has gained me a closer relationship with God and a deeper understanding of many things – like what matters in life and what a Godly relationship is that I share with my husband.
I didn’t grow up Christian, in fact, when you grow up with almost everything, who really needs God? But that’s the thing, we all do at some point in our lives (because being good on our own terms isn’t the ticket to happiness or a ticket to heaven) or else we keep living the empty life of searching for fulfillment. I share this with you because if you don’t know God, Jesus, or anything about church, Christmas is about just those things – more than family, more than friends, more than presents and peppermint coffee. Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, God’s son, who came down to Earth to die for our sins – everyone, so that all who believed in him would not die but have eternal life in heaven, with God. (John 3:16). If you are curious, you don’t know where to start, you can go to any non-denominational church and go from there. As a regular church go-er who overcame the fear of not belonging, I want to tell you that churches don’t exist for Christians, it’s a house for all who are wounded, lost, hurting, and need help. Christians aren’t perfect (as I’m sure you’ve come to realize). You don’t need to bring a bible or even know how to read one, you’re welcome to attend, welcome to ask questions, and welcome to start a relationship with Jesus himself whenever you want.
I share this condensed story with you because it’s Christmas time and it reminds me of when my life took a turn for the better. My eyes swell with tears when people raise their hands at the end of church saying they repeated the salvation prayer because I’m reminded of how far I’ve come saying that prayer, by His grace alone.
Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12
Diana Elizabeth loves the Classic Santa, Winter Wonderland Christmas songs just as much as the Christian Christmas songs. It reminds her of elementary school Christmas recitals and the imagination she had about Santa Claus as a young child. The imagination of a child is always fun to entertain and she absolutely loved it as a child (until she realized her NKOTB yoyo had a Kmart sticker on it).