It’s the end of 2019 and the beginning of winter break in Japan! Even though winter break goes by fast, this year we have Ruth’s parents visiting from Brazil. The kids are off school and are having a great time in the last episode of 2019 and the first of the new year. Happy New Year from the Reutters!
Everyone sets out from the beginning of the new year to have a happy new year — or at least not a bad year. Even though there are many things outside of our control, we have a lot to say in whether or not our new year will be happy or not. Having said that, here are 7 ways to make sure you have a good, happy year.
In case you want that list again, here it is:
- Do the Right Thing
- Take a Break
- Try Something New
- Make New Friends with People You Respect
- Be Present
- Be Generous
- Help Others Succeed
What do you think? Would you add anything to your own list?
Celebrating the world’s biggest holiday of Christmas in Japan is quite an interesting experience — first of all, Christmas is not even a nation holiday here. That means that people work as normal and even our kids went to school! For foreigners in Japan, this is a big shock. The rest of the world is celebrating, and it’s life as normal in Japan. This can be hard to deal with as you see pictures and videos of your close family and friends celebrating across the world. A time that should be one of great joy and celebration only exasperates the feeling of missing out that we as humans avoid as much as possible.
So this year we decided to celebrate Christmas bigger than ever, as you can see in this episode of Life in Japan. All in all, it was the best Christmas yet here in Japan, and we’ve lived here over 5 years now! The more you prepare, work and anticipate, the greater the celebration when it comes.
If you feel like you’re missing out — missing out on life and happiness, missing out on romance, missing out on family — then know that’s exactly why Jesus came. He came to seek and save those who are missing out, those who are lost. He came to make us whole in Him. Jesus name means “I am God who saves” and another title of Jesus is “Emmanuel” or “God with us.” He cares so much that He came to us in the form of a little baby boy so we would never have to miss out again.
Think about that — never miss out again! Not miss out on a wonderful relationship that God our Heavenly Father desires, not miss out on experiencing the joy of family the way He designed and purposed it. And not miss out on fulfilling, healthy relationships with the people God puts in our heart. This is the message of Christmas: let those who have missed out never miss out again. Receiving the greatest gift of Christmas, Jesus Christ, is the way to the greatest joy and purpose. Following Him leads to a fulfilling life of love and purpose, and that’s a great reason to celebrate!
Merry Christmas from the Reutters and Happy New Year!
I love Christmas Carols. These classic songs, old and new, are played all over the world at this time of year, announcing the joy and wonder of the season. As a special Christmas present for you, here is a medley of five of our favorite Christmas carols sung by me (Nate Reutter) and Jennifer Huber in Japanese and English. This is an original arrangement, orchestration and piano performance that we hope you enjoy. Merry Christmas!
The days leading up to Christmas (Christmas Advent) are some of the most special days of the year. There are many traditions for us that make this time special: Christmas trees and decorations, Christmas cookies and holiday carols, year-end newsletters and a never-ending onslaught of year-end deals and sales. Welcome to the busy end of the year!
But for some the end of the year is especially difficult. It only reminds them of loved ones who are no longer here, or of broken relationships and families torn apart. For many who find themselves alone, Christmas is not a time of celebration, but of difficult retrospect. An endless strain of “what if’s” that fill the mind.
But the only difference between a great story and a bad story is where the story ends. The best stories have heartbreak, discord, love and loss. There’s betrayal and unmet expectations. Ironically, it’s the exact same ingredients of a bad story. Except bad stories end there — in the despair and heartbreak. In the bleak-midwinter hopelessness. It’s like watching a movie that ends before it gets good. Movies that do that flop. Everyone is cheering for a happy ending. And that’s exactly what Christmas is. A happy ending. A happy ending and a glorious new beginning!
This is the season we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ whose name means “God saves.” Through Jesus, God saves us from our bad ending of despair and heartbreak, of loneliness and brokenness. Another name of Jesus is Emmanuel — “God with us.” God not only saves, but he entered into our mess, into our bad, lonely story and came to be with us in it, heal us of it and lead us out of it. That’s salvation.
You can rejoice this Christmas, even if you are alone and heartbroken, even if you made a mess of life or have fallen victim to it, because with the coming of Jesus into your life, your bad story won’t end there. It is being worked into a masterpiece story. All it takes is to call out to him — “Jesus, come save me! Enter into my life! I will follow you!” — and watch as the miracle of Christmas turns your life and story around, just as it has in the lives of millions and billions since the very first Christmas nearly 2,000 years ago.