Archives for posts with tag: celebration

Tree

One of the tenderest parts of my preparation for Christmas is putting up the tree. Decorating it usually brings a few tears. Many of the ornaments were given to me by people who are now waiting for me in heaven. Many of the ornaments were made by my precious children who are now wonderful grown men. Some were given to me by people I rarely see anymore. Each ornament represents a person or an event or a trip that blessed me or my family. Each one has a story. I have spent twenty seven years accumulating the ornaments that make my tree complete and give it beauty and meaning.

It’s not a perfect tree where everything matches. It’s a tree that mirrors real life. Most of the ornaments on it are one of a kind. Some are elegantly beautiful; some are whimsically fun. Some shine; some are worn by age. Some are religious; some are secular. All are precious to me and are a reflection of the story of my life.

The decorations and parties and concerts are one way I try to make celebrating Christmas look different from the rest of my year. The older I get, the more my celebrations are lace with memory and tradition. That tree is precious to me because it is where those that I love will gather on Christmas morning. My tree, my life, and my effort to celebrate the birth of my Savior are all imperfect, but God is not deterred by my imperfection; it is the reason he came to save me.

My intentional focus on the fact the God interrupted history to send his son to earth is intertwined with family needs and schedule demands. When I choose to acknowledge God’s incredible gift of that first holy night of Jesus’ life, Christmas comes to my den and my heart as surely as it did to the stable and hillside in Bethlehem.

That Christ child would grow up to lead those willing to follow him through all the events of their lives: the shiny and the raggedy, the glorious and the tender, the sacred and the secular. He didn’t insist that we become holy so that we could know him; he came to help us become holy in the midst of all the stuff and shine and stress of our lives. May your home and your Christmas celebration be characterized by his presence, his peace, and his joy as you allow him to weave the story of your past into all that is to come in the new year.

 

Advertisements

summit 2
“The degree of satisfaction is directly proportional to the degree of difficulty. The harder the climb, the sweeter the summit.” – Mark Batterson in The Circle Maker

I love watching people who are really good at what they do – do it. Olympians inspire me; those who win the World Series or the Superbowl or the World Cup or the Masters are often overcome when they finally see that they have won. Believing in and working for a goal are a lot harder than having the medal hung around your neck. We celebrate the win, but we almost never see the years of tedium and sacrifice that precede these victories.

I would love to hear your answers:
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done? Why was it hard? Why did you do it?

Most of us will never hold a national title or wear an Olympic medal. But our summits may be even more consequential. Choosing to love people who are difficult, ignoring what is easy and fighting for what is right, refusing to give up our faith when life is hard or unfair or painful are the price we may have to pay for victory over our circumstances. Holding fast to what you know is good and right is so much harder than giving in to mediocrity and convenience. But for some it may look more like keeping a job, staying away from alcohol or drugs, or finally getting a diploma. The sweetest victories are those that required the very best in us, and bring us to a new beginning.

Those who attempt only what is easy never achieve much of any significance. The view and the celebration are at the top, but you can’t get to the top without the climb. Too often we choose to take the easy way out and rob ourselves of the view at the end of a struggle. May you never miss a celebration or an incredible view because you were unwilling to make the journey.

Have you ever been really excited about something that you just couldn’t tell everybody?  Earlier this summer, I was told by the publisher that the book would go “live” early in the week.  I went on line to check and it wasn’t there.  I was busy and let two days go by without even thinking about it again.  Then came that Wednesday morning.  During my quiet time God prompted me to check again.  And there it was.  Months of frustration when the words wouldn’t come and yearning to know the next step and whether I was doing the right thing, and there it was on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com.  It was so exciting and such an “Ebenezer” moment…and I had to get ready to go to work.  Celebration that morning was short lived.

I’ve found that doing something like writing a book, while it is a huge accomplishment, is truly a labor of love.  God gave me every word during quiet morning hours while the rest of my house was asleep.  I “published” it, but, in every sense of the word, God gave it to me.  So that made me hesitant to talk about it.  I didn’t want people to think I was bragging, but seeing it on line for the first time was so exciting!

Meanwhile, at work, the tedium and endless interruptions of a preschool office took over my morning.  In the midst of paper work and answering the phone, the Fire Inspector came to do the annual inspection.  I signed all the proper paper work, and he began talking.  I learned he was a Christian and attends a Baptist church here in the Richmond area.  I could tell that he was defined by his relationship with God, and I needed to tell somebody about my joy and Christians are supposed to be kind….so I told him that I’d written a book and that it had gone “live” that morning.  He asked me all about it and wrote down the title, promising to look it up when he got home.  We finished the business of the day and then he said, “May I ask you a favor?”  I said, “Sure.”  He said, “Would you allow a fireman to pray for you and this book and all the people who will read it?”

And in that moment, I saw God’s hand.  God knew I wanted someone to celebrate with, and he sent a fireman to do it. How awesome, how thorough is my God.  He not only equipped me with every word I needed to accomplish what he called me to do, he blessed and affirmed me through the tender prayer of a faithful fireman. 

When Mary and Joseph couldn’t contain their joy and the birth of Jesus, God sent them shepherds to join the celebration.  When Peter was so full of the Spirit at Pentecost he just had to preach, God sent him thousands.  God is into celebration, and he helps us do it well.  I am awed by God’s ability to not only equip me to be obedient, but to celebrate with me.  It is my prayer that my obedience will give him reason to delight over me more often.

 

Zeph 3:17  …He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.