Posts Tagged ‘Holidays’

Our Finest GiftsWhose are the finest gifts this year,

At such a time of festive cheer?

Are shopping lists finally completed?

Are pocketbooks once more depleted?

As shops all vie for lowest prices,

Sleep deficit and blood pressure rises;

Where are the gifts we said we’d bring,

To lay at the feet of a newborn King?

Wrapped against the winter’s chill,

Hoping for some warmth to feel;

It is not there within the soul,

Still incomplete and never full.

What is the finest gift but to know,

What a newborn King lived and died to show.

The path to love, the path to living,

Is this the gift that we are giving?

It can’t be wrapped, for it is free;

Knowing this Love for eternity,

Is the finest gift that one could bring—

Showing the way to the newborn King.

Finding peace and warmth within this light,

Flooding the soul with a love so bright,

Sorrow of seasons is washed away,

With the Love that came down on Christmas Day.


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Light of Christmas

Child touching Christmas bell on wreath

Aiden touching the “singing” bells

[Written December 4, 2010]

I am sitting outside in the cold, still night air. The sky above is cloudy and not a star can be seen. A slight and chill wind rustles by, threatening to pull the last few leaves that have managed to last thus far in the tree I sit against. The weather is colder than I have experienced in the past 11 years in India, but a certain sense of warmth pervades.

I am not sitting here alone. Actually, I would not be sitting here at all, if not for my son. Yesterday, my husband and my mother strung colorful Christmas lights around the house and the trees. They put up giant baubles in the trees—green, gold and red. There is a wreath with bells that light up as it plays one Christmas tune after another. That is why I am sitting outside in the cold, with my son on my lap, watching the little golden bells light up as the Christmas tunes play.

I try to keep up with the tunes, singing to my son, as he listens quietly.

I ask if we can go inside now.

“No,” is his quick response.

Aiden points into the window, where we can see my husband making chicken curry for dinner. “Windee,” he says, “Da-da”. Every day his verbal repertoire grows. His new word today was window (windee).

I ask if we can go inside now.

“No,” he says again.

“Ball,” he notices the baubles hanging on the trees. I carry him to one after another, as he touches them and tries out the word bauble: “baboo,” he says, pointing to the biggest one, a deep green.

By now the chill wind is getting to me.

I ask if we should go inside and tell daddy about the lights and music.

He finally nods, “yass”. We head inside and he calls out, “Da-da, meeks.” I’m pretty sure that’s meant to be music.

After just a moment back in the warm house, he points outside once more, “Elights.” That was yesterday’s new word.

Outside once more…it’s even colder than before. The lights are beautiful now that it’s completely dark. Aiden has always really liked lights, from the time he was a baby. My thoughts went back to last Christmas—his first Christmas. Although he was sick with chicken pox that year, it was still the best Christmas I ever had. He loved the Christmas tree lights…so did I.

Every Christmas has been special in some way. Whether in a country that celebrated Christmas or not, whether at times that I was surrounded by friends and family or on my own—somehow those twinkling lights always made me feel the touch of Christmas.

Sitting once more in the dark, watching the brightly-twinkling lights, I think of another light that shines every Christmas. In a time of darkness was born the brightest light the world has ever known.

Maybe that’s why the lights always brought Christmas into my heart.

I cuddle Aiden close and continue singing— of Christmas, of light, of love.

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blue lighted Christmas treeWhy do I always wish for a perfect Christmas? Why is there some image of a “perfect” Christmas in my mind and heart—something almost unattainable: nostalgic, soft and cozy? Why do I sometimes feel disappointed when things don’t turn out the way I am hoping for, or when circumstances are not exactly what I would have chosen?

No Christmas is perfect. Even the Christmas that stands out in my mind as my “best Christmas ever” was not perfect. I was tired that day, disappointed by certain aspects of it…yet still the day stood out to me as wonderful, because I had received beautiful gifts of love that day, and was able to give them in return.

Come to think of it, I doubt that any Christmas throughout the ages has ever been perfect. Even the “first Christmas”, the day that we celebrate a loving Savior coming to Earth as a baby, was imperfect.

Mother Mary, if she was anything like a normal woman on the day of the birth of her first child, probably went through nearly unbearable pain, and afterwards, complete exhaustion.

Joseph might have been worried about the future for him and his new family. He was possibly a bit embarrassed; after all, he couldn’t find any better place for his young wife to have her first child than a place where animals ate and lived.

There were shepherds who were most likely completely freaked out, at least at first, when an angel appeared out of nowhere in the middle of the night. Maybe they thought it was the end of the world, for them, and that was why the angel had to start his message with, “Fear not!”

Wise men hundreds of miles away were confused, wondering, at an amazing happening in the sky, so much so that they decided to travel a long ways to find out exactly what was going on, and give honor. Even once they reached Judaea, their curiosity and wonderment probably grew, as there was no baby king to worship and their travels extended until they finally found a young child, who had no worldly honor and praise, and gave him their three gifts.

There were people all over the world of that day who were displaced due to a new tax law; they were traveling, possibly depressed, homesick, or physically ill, wondering why God was allowing them to go through all that, wondering if He even cared, when His answer had already descended to Earth and was lying in the most unlikely place—a manger.

The baby Himself must have cried that day, at such a change: from King of Heaven, to a helpless babe.

No Christmas has been perfect; yet each Christmas is beautiful…for the love that is shared on that day, for the giving and receiving of gifts from the heart, for the joy of being with family and friends, for the excitement and wonder of the season itself.

And if nothing else, if the day dawns with loneliness, sadness, or even despair, Christmas is still beautiful…for the promise that was given and is renewed each Christmas: the promise of a Love that is enduring and true, a Love that made the choice to leave the most wonderful place in existence to walk the dusty roads of mankind and experience depravation, pain and death in order to fulfill a promise…that He would walk each step of that same road with each of us. No one is ever completely alone, and Christmas is a day to realize the beauty of such a marvelous gift—Love eternal, and the promise of life forever with the Creator of that Love.

Merry Christmas.

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When you saw the crib from highManger scene

Did You see Your death and sigh

Or did You see that You again would rise

And chose a humble womb from heaven’s skies


When you lay in a manger, damp and cold

Did you long for angel’s wings to enfold

Or realize we too would want such things

So You forsook the comfort of angels’ wings


When you tasted this world’s humble fare

Did you long for Heaven’s sumptuous care

Or knew the taste would be richer with us by your side

And gave us the truth while You chose to abide


When you felt weary and weak and worn

Did you long to leave this world so forlorn

Or knew that we needed to be shown the way

Our truth and light, and for our sake did stay


When you had to see and touch and feel

This homesick world from one so real

Did it pain You to stay a while

Yet, I think I saw You smile


For You knew that Heaven’s touch

On this poor world would mean so much

So You lived and died, and rose to glory

To begin life’s deepest true love story

(Written December 1999)


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It was a great evening!Mary and Joseph journey to Bethlehem on a donkey

There was really good food.

There was enjoyable company.

There were games and singing.

And there was a Christmas quiz, a “nativity quiz” to be exact, outlining 10 multiple choice questions of certain aspects of the “real Christmas story”—you know, that thing we think we all know so well. After all, we’ve attended Christmas pageants; we sing “We Three Kings” as we picture them kneeling before a newborn baby in a manger.

I grew up knowing about Jesus in the manger even before I heard of the name Santa Clause. The funny thing was, I still did not get every answer correct—I’m not sure if anyone did.

Afterwards, I wondered about that fact, as I returned home and opened my Bible to double check one of the questions (and answers). Sure enough, I had been wrong about something I assumed was fact ever since I was a child. The answer was right there; it had been there all my life. It had actually been there for the past couple thousand years.

Why is it sometimes so difficult to take time to open the Book? The answers to so many questions are right there, within the pages. The heart and soul of it all…the spirit, the purpose… Love is within the pages, a Love that lasts forever.

…By the way, did you know that Mary did not actually travel to Bethlehem on a donkey? Despite Small One being my favorite childhood cartoon, the fact is that it does not state in the Bible how they made it from Nazareth to Bethlehem. I didn’t know that. I do now, though.

Can’t wait to see what else I will find out as I take time to open the Book, and my heart as well.

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A Gift from the Heart

heart wrapped with bowI really have no clue if today was indeed “the first day of Christmas”—according to that old song, in which someone was given by their true love something different every day “of Christmas”—often some gift having to do with a bird (again, no clue why). I have heard it was actually a song with hidden meanings, but that’s not the topic of this post (mainly because I really don’t know much more about the song than that I have always found it to be rather irritating).

In any case, my husband gave me a gift today. Last night I was up quite late working on a timely project; it had been a long and tiring weekend in more ways than one. My husband was also up late, also working. Hence, neither of us were up before our 20-month-old son—who, since he was a young baby, has had some sort of affinity for lights, including sunshine. Once he noticed any sort of light coming through the curtains, he would be up for the day.

For the past few days, he has woken me up with his trademark request for raisins; he cups one hand and puts a finger from his other hand on his palm, while saying “ins” over and over again, with an adorable little lisp. This morning, it was over an hour before I was hoping to have to get out of bed, and there he was, bending down until he was a couple inches from my face, saying, “Mama, mama, ins, ins.” I made a mental note to keep a little box of raisins under my mattress, to give him in the morning and gain a few extra minutes of shut-eye. I kept my eyes closed, in some kind of hopeless hope that he would decide that he wanted to go back to sleep. Today, for a change, the voices faded, and I drifted back into my merry dreamland.

About an hour later, I woke to the faint sound of singing. I got up and peeked in the living room, where the music was coming from. The three kids were watching a video, singing along with the tunes. In the kitchen, there was my husband, making waffles and some hot coffee.

I enjoyed the waffles; I enjoyed the coffee; I definitely enjoyed sleeping in. It was something simple, but something my husband knows means a lot to me—one of those gifts from the heart that cannot be bought from a store, but means every bit as much as a present wrapped up and set under a tree. A gift unplanned, undeserved, but given from a heart of love.

I knew it would be another long and busy day ahead, but it would be wrapped up with love, each new day also a precious gift, and a chance to present others with gifts from the heart.

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hands in shape of heartIt is two weeks until Christmas, until the day that we enjoy the gift of family and friends, the day we give and receive gifts from the heart, the day that we celebrate the birth of Jesus—the God of love.

A headline stood out to me from today’s newspaper and I ended up reading the whole article. I was very saddened by what I read.

Half a dozen people traveled all the way to little ol’ Fresno just so they can picket at a funeral of a young soldier today, and then follow the funeral procession all the way to the burial. They have picketed at many funerals, bearing signs of hate and judgment.

The message and true meaning of Christmas is clear: “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.”

The stories I love the most of Jesus’ life on Earth were those that showed His compassion and love for those who made mistakes and were condemned by others. Most people know the famous story of the woman carried to Jesus by a group of men who planned to stone her, because she had been found in bed with a man to whom she was not married. This group of men hoped to trick Jesus into giving an answer that they could then judge Him for. Instead, He thought for a moment and then spoke to the crowd, “He that is without sin among you, let him be the first to cast a stone.”

Stoning is not done these days, but there are words of hatred that cut deeper to a heart than a stone ever could.

The crowd left, and Jesus spoke to the woman, telling her that He does not judge or condemn her—such a beautiful tale of not only love and forgiveness, but a promise of life anew.

Christmas is a time that believers could be spreading that same message of mercy and forgiveness during a time that many are hoping to find love and peace, warmth and acceptance.

Sometimes it is easy to judge—not in such a terrible way as picketing hate messages at a funeral—but to jump to conclusions and come to decisions about another in one’s mind or heart. This Christmas, let’s give the most wonderful and lasting gifts to our family and loved ones—gifts of love, time, forgiveness, compassion, joy—those gifts that money cannot buy, but that will endure beyond the end of the festive season. What is more, these gifts, when given, are also the best gifts we can give to the One Who is the Reason for the Season.

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