Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Closer to the Baby Jesus every day

Many years ago I sewed a plastic canvas/fabric nativity set that my children could play with and touch and not worry about breaking. The "3 Wise Men" are all together as one piece. When my son was little, he loved setting up the nativity set and after he gently placed Jesus in his little fabric 'cradle" and placed all the animals and the shepherds around Mary and Joseph and the baby, he put the Wise men at the far reaches of the room.

Every day he made a point to move the Wise Men. After several days we realized this was a pattern - moving those Wise Men to a new location each day. We assumed he was just playing some imaginary game. Finally we asked him, "Why did you put the Wise Men all the way on the other side of the room and why do you keep moving them?" He told us "they're getting a little closer to the baby Jesus every day. On Christmas they'll find Him." (I know the time line is off, but he definitely "got" the concept and the story of their journey to Jesus.)

Nearly 2 decades later, as we take the nativity set out of the box and my son sets it up on the floor under the tree, I am still reminded to see Christmas through the eyes of a little child.

Blessings on your journey,

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Angels

(Please mute my playlist box so you can play the You-Tube performance of Angels We Have Heard On High at the end of this post)

In 1988 I purchased the first in the series of Hallmark's Mary's Angels Christmas ornaments. That is the year my son, our youngest child was born (in May). The first in the series was out that Christmas and while I wasn't really sure he'd grow up to like angels (was it too "girly"?) it was the only series I really liked.

This year, Jeff will receive the 22nd in the series in his stocking! Fortunately, he is a deeply spiritual young man and delights in hanging each angel on the tree every Christmas. Like his mother, he is in awe and wonder of angels and ardently believes in their existence! I delight in stopping by the tree and seeing the--by now--full choir of angels hanging there!

This year has flown by for us and we have had many challenges and obstacles as a family. There were weeks, and even months, where we wished away the experiences we found ourselves in the midst of.

As the year winds to a close, and the Christmas season is upon us, I rejoice in our many blessings. The angels are now too numerous to recall which one was received on which year -- though they are each dated and we could figure it out if we were so inclined. I think it's more enjoyable to look at them as a whole - an entire choir of angels filling up a good portion of our tree - like those that filled the sky one Christmas eve a long, long time ago.

That baby and his family faced many hardships as well. But like each of us, they received the promise of eternity in heaven. Like us, they were no doubt in awe of the choir of angels in the sky on the night Jesus was born, announcing the good news of all time!

Angels we have heard on high
Sweetly singing o'er the plains,
And the mountains in reply
Echoing their joyous strains.


Gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Shepherds, why this jubilee?
Why your joyous strains prolong?
What the gladsome tidings be
Which inspire your heavenly song?


Come to Bethlehem and see
Christ Whose birth the angels sing;
Come, adore on bended knee,
Christ the Lord, the newborn King.


See Him in a manger laid,
Whom the choirs of angels praise;
Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
While our hearts in love we raise.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Happy Birthday, Big Sister!

I'm going to a birthday party for big sister! I just got an email from her mom that they're having a small celebration on Sunday!

I can't express how excited I am! I also can't believe big sister will be five years old! She was little more than a baby -- just barely 2 years old -- when I was hired as a nanny for her and her infant twin brothers.

I'm pretty sure I now what I'm going to give her--I've had my eye on a couple of potential gifts for a while now -- wanting to give just the right "Mary gift." I want my gift to be memorable and fun and yes, durable! I want it to be something that when she opens it, she'll know it was from me! I'm the crafty, puzzle working, song singing, dancing to music, silly, no-nonsense-let's not forget whose the boss, sidewalk chalk drawing, bubble blowing Mary!

Yes, it is important to me to be thought of in certain ways. It has occurred to me, though, that I have not spent as much time and energy this year focusing on the one true important birth that will be celebrated in a few days. I haven't prayed about who I am to God--how He views me and my life. Only just this morning have I spent time in prayer and quiet reflection about whether or not my life is a "perfect gift" to God.

Sadly, the answer is no! I rejoice though that I have at least realized my folly and have committed to some serious soul-searching and prayer for the remainder of this holiday season and into the new year. I rejoice too that no matter what gift I give big sister, she will like it because it is from Mary.

God wants the kind of planning and thought--and excitement--that I have about big sister's birthday party when we offer our lives to Him. He already gave us the perfect gift--our goal to is express our thanks by living our lives in such a way that we become an acceptable gift to Him. I rejoice that while I will never be perfect, I worship a perfect God who loves me in spite of that truth!