I’m still working through some of this and I apologize for the lack of conciseness and clarity; but I post this regardless in hopes that you are able to be encouraged and inspired this Christmas season.
Advent Letter 2017
This year I sat with the verses from Luke 1 as I prepared for Advent.  These verses spurred a passion in my heart for women, which I was able to speak about as part of my story that I shared at a Christmas women’s brunch last week. 
I will openly share that talk; but today
As I sit to write down all the thoughts that have been dancing around in my head surrounding Advent I am overcome with a spectacular sense of Who Jesus is.  In Luke 2 when Mary learns she is pregnant with a baby conceived by the Holy Spirit she says, “For nothing is impossible with God.”. 
Jesus’ brilliance rests in his Who he is.  The Son of the Almighty God, conceived by the Holy Spirit to a virgin.  Full of wisdom, humility, counter-culturalism, and mighty, MIGHTY POWER.  He demonstrated the power to heal, He demonstrated the power to save and forgive souls, He demonstrated His ability to give “more and better life than you could ever have imagined” (John 10:10)
The last month I have wrestled with the notion that what I believe is “crazy”.  After spending an evening with 2 of my close friends reflecting on Advent and the passage in Luke 2, I came home in disbelief.  I said to Ryan (the voice of ultra-logic in my life) , “How can you believe what we believe?”  I knew he had spent much time with his buddies debating the answers to unanswerable biblical questions. “How have you come to a point of being okay accepting the craziness of our faith?”  
It is irrational to believe that Jesus came through virgin birth, died on the cross and rose again to forgive us from our sins.  I spent this past year pressing into God out of desperation.  I needed a Hope outside myself, bigger than myself, and I knew I could find it in Jesus.  I started seeking Him with my whole heart because the bible says, “If you seek me you will find me, if you seek me with your whole heart.”  But what I found was a God who doesn’t make sense to my rational, logical, science-trained mind.  I started truly seeing what the bible says about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  And I needed to wrestle with jumping all in to such a “crazy” belief.  I was also preparing to talk to a room of women about my belief and so I needed to be certain I could proclaim with all of me, the words that just didn’t have any logic.  I had a lengthy talk with Ryan hoping I could find myself confident in what I believe as I was about to assert it. 
Ryan’s advice was that you just have to not think too much.  You have to come to a point where you jump onboard.  He sees the benefit of faith itself and the principles of Jesus make sense and embody what he desires to be like.  For the logic you just have to not get bogged down in it, faith is not logical but what it offers matters so much.  I had easily seen the benefit of my faith in the past and so easily believed in the past; but at this point I wasn’t quite satisfied.  There needed to be a bigger driving force to align myself with surreal and illogical beliefs. 
As I sought more I found myself seeing that we are spiritual beings.  We all crave “touchy-feely” moments and from my experience if you don’t acknowledge you crave them, then you are a person with a grumpy disposition (aka miserable).  We’re created with a soul that isn’t tangible.  Furthermore, we have emotions and there are just things that science can’t explain.  I remember in research there were things that should just work; but in practice they don’t.  Logic only goes so far.  My own counselor told me that people who have Hope and Faith do better in their cancer journey.  This cannot be explained by logic; but Hope matters!  Spirituality matters! I experienced it, we need something greater than dismal statistics!  When I was diagnosed with cancer the first breath of Hope I received was incredible (my colleague who pulled out stories of glioblastoma survivors).  It held POWER.
So, I realized there is no reasoning your way into faith.  Faith is just that, faith.  I have seen the evidence the past year of God’s goodness and faithfulness.  Without the hope of Jesus there is no way I would have had a focal point, a driving force, the something bigger than myself that I needed to get through this past year. 
Moreover, in Sept. I was sitting in an emotionally charged church service.  I felt no emotion; but at the same time felt God communicate to me so strongly and calmly that He is the Faithful One.  He doesn’t need the hype or emotion to be present.  He is always there.  This is the Jesus I knew!  This is the Jesus I needed and why I found it important to wrestle with the basis of my faith.  I came to a point where I needed to embrace the bible and everything that Jesus is about with all that I am or I need to discard it.  Because the Jesus I am learning about is crazy.  He is bold, miracles are in his hands, He’s powerful, He calls us to love like crazy, to see people as people, to trust that He is enough, to trust that he is in ultimate control.  I NEED THAT JESUS POWER IN MY LIFE.  I came to a point where I said how can I believe what Jesus has claimed?
The bible responded in I Corinthians 1 (my paraphrase) that such a spectacular God would only naturally “do things” in a way that is absurd and foolish to believe because we are humans limited in human rationale.  Okay, I let that mull around.  My rational brain still struggled with such a wild belief.  I needed this Jesus because of the Hope He gave me; but I needed to be certain I wasn’t placing my anchor in utter foolishness.  
I had grown up with this belief system and certainly I had assessed it’s place in my life through out adulthood; but now it REALLY mattered.  I had to resolutely find my belief for myself.  I had to resolutely be prepared to stand by my beliefs.  Whole-heartedly.  All-in.  The belief of those around me was their belief, I needed mine. Rooted. Grounded. 
So I kept seeking, hunting for how this could possibly be so. The faith I had cried out for a year ago needed this hurdle either elegantly leaped over or plowed through.  I’m not sure which exactly happened; but I read this in Ephesians 4.
“Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.”
These verses tell me that by being my head too much I align myself with a hard heart.  I need to get out of my head, out of the futility of my mind.  We all know our minds and bodies trick us into things we don’t actually want to do.  We are spiritual, emotional, as well as physical beings.
This was the final draw.  The hurdle was overcome.  I am a spiritual being.  I need something bigger than myself.  God’s power has already shown itself in my life. So I am compelled to be “all in” believing Jesus is the Mightily Powerful Son of God who He says he is.  I am compelled to believe that I am not alone.  I am compelled to believe that this season I truly worship the birth of Jesus Christ, Savior of the World!
I’ve come to a point where I’m actually reading my bible and taking it to heart and seeing that Jesus promises much; but he also wants all of me.  I’m excited to see what exactly it is Jesus will ask of me this year.
This I know, as I step into faith of who Jesus is I am expecting a marvelous display of His Power in my life.
Thank you Jesus for the celebration of Christmas!!!
To those of you who believe in Jesus I feel compelled to ask you:
If you are choosing to believe the absurdness of Christianity, I ask you, Why?  Do you think about what you believe?  What does it mean that Jesus came to Earth as a baby? If you’ve never met the power of Jesus before, I pray you meet him!  If you’ve forgotten the power of Jesus, can I remind you of the absurdity of your belief?  If you choose to believe that Jesus came to earth through virgin conception, and that He saved us from our sins if we believe in Him and in his crucifiction and resurrection, you are believing in a POWERFUL GOD!  Is that the God you celebrate this Christmas?  Because He. Is. spectacular!
Personally, I am trusting in God’s power in my life, the same power that allowed virgin conception,
You see my mom always told me to stop and count to 10 because I have a way of getting too excited about things.  I am excited about this power of Jesus! But I see too, that the steadfast love of Jesus that my Mom rests her confidence in procures this same power.  This is not hype or emotion.
I look forward to celebrating Jesus this season.  I look forward to seeing what my emboldened Faith in Jesus looks like the whole year through.
Jesus I adore you!   
Perhaps as you sing your Christmas carols this year, you’ll listen to the power of their words, I know I am.  Jesus’ marvelous, brilliant, spectacular arrival that we are invited to celebrate in.  Sing them out loud and clear!
Here’s some of my favorite lyrics, read them, listen to them!
The thrill of hope
Weary world rejoices
For yonder brings
A new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Much love to you all.  May you truly, wholeheartedly experience God with you this Christmas!  I love you!

Love Cheryl