If you know me at all, you know that Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year.
I love to decorate, celebrate and spend time with friends and family. But most of all, I love to celebrate the birth of Jesus. It’s a sweet time of the year for me and my family. We decorate the tree together, bake Christmas cookies, read the Christmas story, enjoy huge family get-togethers and have a visit from Buddy the Elf.
If there is a tradition at Christmastime, you can probably assume that my family partakes in it. I love the snow, I love the beautiful lights and decorations, I love giving gifts and I love eating lots and lots of food.
This year looks a little different, though. It looks a lot like dwelling in the presence of the Lord and being full of thankfulness. I will be celebrating Christmas in Livingstone, Zambia. And how blessed am I to say that I have the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in Zambia.
Being away from home for nine months is hard, but it is much harder during these times of the year. But let me tell you about the joy, happiness and fellowship that comes through these hard times.
The Lord has surrounded me with the sweetest group of girls to spend Christmas with this year, and for that, I am thankful.
I am thankful that instead of buying gifts for my friends at home this year, I am buying clothing for my elderly friend, Crispy. I am thankful that instead of spending Christmas in comfort this year, the Lord is calling me into discomfort, and the Lord is calling me deeper into what he has for me.
I am thankful that instead of a cold Christmas, I am enjoying the 95-degree weather. I am thankful that instead of spending Christmas at home with my family, I am spending it in a slum village in Zambia surrounded by families and children who have nearly nothing. I am thankful that even though I miss home and my family, even more I want what the Lord has for me.
It’s a sweet time of the year, but where the Lord has me during this time of the year is even sweeter. The Lord has given me a family to celebrate Christmas with this year. It just looks a little different.
Instead of sadness in the pain of absence this Christmas season, I am choosing joy. And I’m quickly learning that you have to choose this or Satan will swoop right in and steal your joy and everything else that you have worked so hard for. The Lord brought me somewhere beautiful. He has me on the craziest journey of a lifetime. He meant for every day to be sweet, for every season to be sweet and for every holiday to be sweet, no matter where I am.
I am so thankful to have a family who supports, loves and encourages me through seasons like this. They make the hard times easier and the happy times a whole lot happier.
This Christmas season, I am choosing joy.
Keia Blair is a Seymour native who attends Cincinnati Christian University.
During her nine-month mission trip around the world, she is submitting a series of blogs that will appear in The Tribune. Send comments to [email protected]