The Thanksgiving Tree

The Thanksgiving Tree

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Christmas Snow

And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord. (Luke 1:45)

The house is silent now. All I can hear is the hum of my computer. The glow from our Christmas tree creates just enough light revealing the remnants of Christmas morning. I see a red barn partially open. There's a large Star Wars box torn in half. A shaker thing with bells awaits a baby's hand. I see a lonely battery and a slipper missing his mate. There is playdoh on the kitchen table. There are six empty stockings hanging by the fireplace. The ever-so-long awaited Christmas morning has come and gone. Gone in time, but will forever remain in my heart.

This was the first Christmas I've ever spent apart from my parents. It's the first Christmas I've ever spent outside the state of South Carolina. It's the first Christmas Chris and I have EVER spent in our own house. It was a lot of firsts for us. First time I cooked a beef tenderloin. First time I made monkey bread. First time I got to attend a Christmas eve service in our home church. And first time my children experienced snow on Christmas morning! Yes, this was going to be a different Christmas. We weren't supposed to be here this Christmas, so we thought. It was difficult for me at the beginning of the month to go in the attic and unpack ALL my Christmas decorations and china. Once again, a reminder that I was supposed to be having Christmas somewhere else, so we thought.

This year I reread the story of Elizabeth and Zacharias. I'm such a Zacharias. Even when I'm convinced that I have experienced an encounter with the Lord, my flesh desires 'proof.' I want every affirmation I can get... and even when God is so gracious to grant it to me over and over again, I'm STILL like...Are you sure, God? Can you just send me one more sign?

Zacharias said to the angel, "How will I know this for certain?".........The angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God and I have been sent to speak to you and bring you this good news. And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words." Luke 1:18-20.

Mary just believed. She asked a very logical question.. "um..but I'm a how exactly does that work?" I mean, that's not a question of unbelief. She believed and she accepted. I've thought a lot about her over the course of this month. I thought about how I hate traveling pregnant. I thought about how she was probably in the nesting phase and getting her house in order when Joseph said, "we have to go to Bethlehem and you may have to deliver there." I thought about how, after I FINALLY would get over that "blow" and disappointment of having to deliver far away from my home, I would resolve to at least find a nice hotel to stay at. I thought about what could have been going through her mind when Joseph came back to her and said, "They don't have any rooms left." I would have immediately shot back, "Well, why didn't you call ahead and make a reservation! you knew EVERYONE would be coming to Bethlehem for taxes!!!" And I can't even imagine walking into the barn and sitting down. God, is this where you wanted your baby to be born? God, are you there? I can't imagine having a baby on the floor where animals had trampled. We don't get any insight into her thoughts other than that she first believed, accepted, treasured these things and pondered them in her heart.

So this Christmas, finally, I have come to acceptance. I'm finished playing Zacharias. I want to be more like Mary. "May it be done to me according to your word." (Luke 1:38)

Life is filled with the unwanted, unexpected. I'm learning that a lot of the disappointment we struggle with is the reality of our unexpected. We feel abandoned when it's hard. Mary was favored. Throughout all of the "unexpected" she experienced during the course of those nine months, do you think she felt favored by God? I would have felt much like I do, now, when life delivers something unexpected and unwanted my way: forgotten. But out of the difficult, God brought deliverance. Sometimes, while it seems as if He is withholding, really He is in the process of redeeming.

I had just taken the Monkey Bread out of the oven when I spotted the first snowflakes; on CHRISTMAS MORNING! I couldn't believe it. It was a picture. It was a miracle. It was MY miracle. I felt the lump in my throat begin to swell, bringing with it happy tears. My first thought, "Oh God, we wouldn't have this morning if we were somewhere else. It's beautiful, God."

I felt a pat on my leg. And in the most precious of precious voices I heard, "See Mommy, it's Christmas. I told you it's Christmas when it snows." Emma Faye's chocolate eyes staring up at me with a matter-of-fact look on her face. "Yes, I guess you were right." My daughter had been telling EVERYONE that it's only Christmas when it snows. Even her teachers were saying she was arguing with them about it when they were telling her it might not snow or it doesn't have to snow. But in her mind.. it snows on Christmas day!

More tears. Because with every snowflake it was as if my precious Heavenly Father was saying, Why did you think I wouldn't give you Christmas? Why did you think you would be lonely? You are loved. I am your home. Look at my beautiful snow. Everyone told your daughter that it never snows in the south on Christmas. I can do anything. Enjoy this time. TREASURE this time.

So that's what I did. I treasured today and I'm pondering tonight. We had a wonderful Christmas Eve with dear friends and an absolutely wonderful day with our family playing in the snow and really spending time together. Josh came up to me tonight and said, "Mommy, thank you so much for all of my Christmas. I've had the BEST Christmas! But Mommy! I was having so much fun, I forgot what Christmas was really all about. I forgot about Jesus!"

So did I, Josh.

I forgot I have a kind, loving Savior who desires the best for me; and what he gives, IS my best. I had forgotten that. I had forgotten that I am NEVER forgotten.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

If He isn't sovereign over EVERYTHING, He's sovereign over NOTHING!

I don't have many words tonight. I just returned from spending time with one of my best friends in Charleston, SC. He daughter was just diagnosed with cancer. I can still hear her quivering voice speak, "I never knew my heart could hurt like this."

Like I said, I'm processing. I have little to say. I spent the majority of my trek back to Birmingham praying for her and their family. I do know that God is sovereign. If He isn't sovereign over EVERYTHING, He's sovereign over NOTHING.

God, you are a mystery to me... you are a mystery.
How you chose to give and take.. it is a mystery.
What you allow... it is a mystery.
How you perfect our faith through our unbelief is a mystery to me.

But I know you are great and awesome. I know your love for us extends far beyond our comprehension.

Therefore, I choose to accept the unknown in order to be fully known by my Creator.

Our simple joys in this life are but a flavor in your eternal feast. When the longing for YOU is stirred there becomes a loosening of all I hold precious... my family, my friends, my safe home... my husband... financial comforts....even my children.

Help me believe, in my unbelief, that YOU are even greater than these. Christ, YOU, are my forever!

Help me relinquish my treasures into your hands.
Help me return to YOU that which was never mine.
Oh God... help me trust in Your good and perfect love divine!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas, for me, is about the beginning of a story

We scrambled to get in the car.
"Ok, Josh, it's time to go!" I said as I placed a giggly Thomas in the car seat.

Josh immediately finished velcro-ing his shoes and I watched him stuff a wallet in his back pocket much like his daddy does. A few weeks ago he had literally cleaned the entire upstairs for me and I payed him some money. This was the morning he had been waiting for. The moment he could go into a toy shop and buy something with the money he'd earned.

We walked into the store and were immediately greeted with joyful Christmas music singing all around. An employee offered any assistance we may need. Toys upon toys sparkled from beautifully displayed shelves and galvanized bins. There were boy sections and girl sections. There were toys on display for children to sample. There was a woman singing Christmas songs in the corner with her guitar. It was like an excerpt from a movie. Really, it was.

Emma Faye found herself seated at a dollhouse and began rearranging the furniture to her liking. Josh began browsing. His eyes fixed on a small little black dog in a red gingham basket.

"Do I have enough for this, Mommy?"

"Yes, you do sweetheart."

"I want to buy him all by myself." He emphatically requested.

"You can do that." I answered.

Josh walked up to the counter, pulled his money out and handed the puppy to the cashier.

"There you go , sweet guy. Enjoy your puppy," she said.

I gathered my crew and we were off to pick up Will from school. As we were driving, I heard Josh talking to his little dog in the back of the car.

Hey little puppy. I got you... and I bought you with my own money.. and now I get to bring you home. I can't WAIT for you to meet your family. You are going to love our house.

Over the speakers in my own car the song "You Came Down" was playing.

You came down. .... to a stable and a manger.. not a kingdom or a crown... you came down

Tears filled my eyes as I listened over and over to my little boy talking to his new prize. I couldn't help but see the parallel in what Christ has done for me. I thought about Christmas. I thought about Jesus as a little boy. I thought of my boys. Jesus was 7. Jesus was 5. Jesus was 7 months. He breathed our air. He walked around on the ground we trod. He saw sunsets. He rode on our waters. He came as a baby. He was born. He was born to save us.

Christmas, for me, is about that little boy. The little boy who walked into a store with every intention of purchasing a prize. Except his treasures weren't packaged in pretty boxes on fancy shelves. The toys were broken. They were missing pieces. Some were ugly. Some were unrecognizable of what they once were. Some were bruised. Some were mean. But this little boy found in them delight. Christmas, for me, was when He saw me in the corner on a broken, dusty shelf, packaged in a torn box; His heart full of love. He carried me to the counter and bought me with his life. Christmas, for me, is about the beginning of my story. The story that began when a little boy carried me out close to his bosom, much like a shepherd carries a lamb, all the while speaking:

I got you...I bought you... and now I get to bring you home. I can't wait for you to meet my family. You are going to love our house.
Christmas, for me, is about the beginning of that story.