Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Yuletide Sentiments

Ten more days. Just ten more days. With every twinkle of the lights, every tear of tape while presents are being wrapped, every friend's card or letter received in the mail, every carol sung, every lick of the fingers after another scrumptious treat is devoured, every ornament placed on the tree . . . the anticipation grows.

Each year I am older, I come to more fully understand Christmas. Or at least I feel so.

When Christmas caroling with friends around a local assisted living retirement home, I met Betty. At about eighty-five years old, she sat by herself at a table in her wheelchair, her head in her wrinkled arthritic hands, tears streaming down her thin cheeks. I stopped singing to go to her side and hold her hand, which she graciously accepted with a weak smile. After asking her a few questions, I realized that we would not be able to chat and was really only able to understand Betty's name. As strangers, we simply sat with one another, our palms connected and our souls uplifted by the unexpected camaraderie. I tried to imagine the reason behind her tears. Is this her first Christmas without a loved one? Is her health deteriorating? Did the song remind her of more joyful days past? If I had to guess, she was simply grateful for a simple act of strangers spending an afternoon to come and see her.

the Lord provides

This is the first Christmas ever that we are not putting a single dollar on a credit card and are truly sticking to the budget that we put together a month ago. For about half of the month, it seemed very doubtful that our budget would allow Jason and I to buy gifts for one another. But after a few costs were smaller than anticipated, we found out that we would be able to and I have never been so excited to buy my husband a present, as small as it may be.

the Lord provides

Because we've been really cutting costs lately, we haven't been buying things as soon as something breaks or is needed. We've just been getting by. This means that when my family has asked what we would like for Christmas this year, we have had very useful answers for them and some of our needs will possibly be taken care of this holiday.

the Lord provides

We buy three gifts for each of our two sons, one of which is shared, for a total of five gifts, plus a stocking with some candies, an orange, and a couple of items from the dollar section in Target. Our thought is that the baby Jesus received three gifts, so this helps to keep the meaning of Christmas alive in our home, as well as to keep spending limited. It also helps us to put a lot of thought into those three gifts. Well, after we had already completed all of our shopping, our two year old son, Noah, began showing a lot more interest in music, specifically in guitars. He spent a few hours (which is A LOT for a two year old) playing with a friend's child-sized toy guitar in their home, causing me to wish that I hadn't already purchased his gifts. Sadly, I thought this gift idea would have to wait until his birthday in May. The very next day, his aunt e-mailed asking what the boys wanted for Christmas and I replied with a list of possible options. She chose to give Noah the guitar.

the Lord provides

Two thousand and nine years ago, a Babe was born. His mother and father were not welcomed anywhere, but eventually found a barn in which the Son of God could be delivered with the livestock. In a world of imperfect people, the perfect Emmanuel came down to be with us, to live among us.

The Lord, our Father, sacrificed and let go of his only Son, knowing that He would be killed. What parent could do this? What father would willingly endure this agony?


Why would the Lord voluntarily give up his Perfect Child?

It is because the Lord loves all of his children with a parent's love, and although we are so unworthy, in giving up Jesus, God knew that He would then someday be reunited with his Son and with all of us.

Our lives are journeys. Hopefully, as the years pass, we gain wisdom and overcome some of our faults.

But will we ever be perfect? No.

Will we ever be worthy of this love of the Lord's? No.

Will we ever be worthy of heaven? No.

And yet, God has loved us unconditionally and given his promise of life after death with Him someday.

the Lord provides

I wish you all the blessings this Christmas and in the year to come. And I hope that you too will allow Christmas to touch your heart.

***** If you are searching to find more meaning in Christmas than gift cards and shopping malls, I would invite you to watch a video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVqqj1v-ZBU Merry Christmas!

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