Steve Schappell-My Blog

Friday, December 23, 2011

Say Merry Christmas like you mean it.

I don't know exactly when it began....but I remember how it was.

It started the day AFTER Thanksgiving.  The ads in the paper, commercials on TV, and in the store windows, all announcing Christmas was coming.  And they were consistent, as they all said "Merry Christmas."  Christmas decorations on a Christmas tree.  Baking Christmas cookies and singing Christmas carols.   That was how it was when my parents grew up, and when their parents were younger too.

Like I said, I don't remember when it began.  I remember getting a pewter button in college that said "Keep Christ in Christmas."  Now that was back in the mid 80's, but I think it really started in the 90's.  Slowly, "Merry Christmas" was being replaced in some areas with "Seasons Greetings" and Happy Holidays."  In ads, on TV, in the paper, in decorations and cards.  At first, I did not notice it much, but like a groundswell inside, something slowly built up, until about 10 years or more ago, I made a decision, sub-consciously at first, and then directly, to keep Christmas out there.

First it was the Christmas Cards.  I ordered ones celebrating the true meaning of Christmas and had the words Merry Christmas on them, to make my own personal statement.  I looked at decorations for the house, tree and outside that did not mention Seasons Greetings or Happy Holidays.  Then I started looking at businesses that used Merry Christmas in their ads or at the stores, and when I could, began supporting them.

I began to see groups, churches, and organizations that we not ashamed to mention "Merry Christmas," or display a nativity, or talk about why we celebrate Christmas.  Over the years, it is amazing to me how much erosion there is in letting political correctness take over in all aspects of our lives.  Keeping to this arena, look around and ask yourself what do you see, read, or hear more of; Merry Christmas, or everything else.

I understand that a business does not want to offend anyone, so they have a generic Happy Holidays in all their ads.  But ask yourself, did the businesses suffer years ago that mentioned Merry Christmas?  Why change?  Why water down the holiday with generic messages when Merry Christmas did just fine.

Now, I am not attacking businesses, or anyone personally.  God is working in my life and asking me to stand up and share the real reason for Christmas, celebrate the season of Jesus and his birth.  Reflect on why we are here and be thankful because I am truly blessed in my life.  He is helping me in my own way, to spread the word that this is HIS Birthday we are celebrating.  We are HIS creation.  This is HIS world and all that is in it.

I made a decision to keep CHRIST in Christmas and support others that do.  I  encourage others to do the same, or at least think about what it was like, when things were easier and traditions were kept, and everything was less stressful.  A time when we stopped, paused, and heard the sound of a crying baby, lying in a manger, who gave Hope and Peace to a weary world.

May you have a Blessed Merry Christmas and Joyous New Year!

God Bless

~Steve

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Three months later.....


All I can say is WOW.  I have been thinking about writing most every day, and life gets in the way.  I want to blog about my son turning 16 and learning to drive; my transition in my new job and the challenges; and my current relationship, where I can honestly say that I have gone on my last "first" date....

For now, here is a copy of my holiday letter that goes out with my Christmas cards.  I will be writing more soon.....
 
Schappell-holiday letter 2011

“Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”    Luke 2: 10-11

Greetings to you and your family during this Christmas Season….it has been an incredible year in many ways and I wanted to share some of what God has been doing in our lives.

August 20th marked one year in my townhouse, and working on a weekly rotation with my kids.  I am slowly working on improvements, first doing landscaping out front in the spring, and then re-doing my patio over the summer.  I am in the process of finishing the basement for additional space.

Drew and Ariana continue to do well in school and sports activities.  Drew recently turned 16, is in 10th grade, and now has his permit.  We are slowly teaching him how to drive and recording the 50+ hours he needs before a license.  Drew has been playing soccer for over 8 years now and played JV on the HS soccer team and was a varsity “swinger,” attending all the varsity games and getting some playing time.   He continues to play school lacrosse in the spring.  Between videogames and his girlfriend, he worked over the summer and is a regular teenager in all respects.

Ariana is 12 and started middle school this fall.  She received a 4.0 in her first semester and is transitioning well.  She continues to play club soccer almost all year round.  Her team finished first in their league and won their 2 tournaments.  The core of her team has been together 4 years and is exciting to watch.  Her skills as an artist continue to improve and she is a wonderful young lady.

Our vacation was our annual roller coaster trip to Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH.  For 3 years, I have found something that my kids will do together.  This year, we traveled to Kings Island in Cincinnati for the first time; hit the Cincinnati Zoo, back to Kennywood Park in PA and Knoebel’s Grove Amusement Park.  It was whirlwind week.  We had a change to meet old friends and make new ones.

For me, it has been a year of change and growth.  I was in a 5 month relationship (my first since the divorce) that ended in January.  I focused on work and the kids, while enjoying my alone time.  My next change came in August, 2 days before my 2nd anniversary at the Credit Union, I was let go as the Branch Manager due to management changes.  I dug deep, pressed into God, and 6 weeks later found work 2.5 miles from home and working weekdays only.  I was able to pay off my car a year early and adjusting to a new reality of lower salary and building myself back up. 

I am grateful, because God is faithful and has promised to meet our needs and he did.  I was fortunate not to fall behind, and happy to be driving less and spending more time with my kids...being able to attend their games and activities.  I am still the manager for my daughter’s soccer team and in the process of writing my first novel.

The job change also opened up a new door, and that is my current relationship with a wonderful woman.  We met online through a friend (Facebook no less), met in person Labor Day weekend, and have not stopped talking ever since.  She lives across the state in Beaver, PA, so we see each other about 2x a month.  God is working in a big way and I am blessed to have found someone I love very much.

My prayer for you is that you will continue to be blessed during the coming year.  Tell your kids you love them…remember what you have and be thankful…every day is a gift and know that life is meant to be shared.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Steve, Drew and Ariana