Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fast forward four years

This boy loves to be cuddled.  He loves spending time reading on laps, playing guitar, making lego creations, eating cookies, playing with his brothers, dressing up, anything Toy Story.  He has a great smile, loves girls, loves the color pink accordingly, makes up praise songs to sing as he plays, likes to help cook.  Just looking at this picture of him, 2 days old, I can still feel that silky soft baby hair and those lusciously chubby cheeks.  Now I'm going to go peek at him sleeping in his big boy loft bed, as he's no doubt "watching a movie" as he sleeps about monkeys and tigers and Woody and Buzz.

 Noah's 2nd birthday

Noah on his 4th birthday!

Monday, December 27, 2010

A stiff upper lip - not so much lower.

 Down a big hill and four feet up in the air and back down does a number on the lip.
Wait.  Can I get a closer look at that?

Yeah, you might want to put some ice on that.

Just days shy of his fourth birthday, Noah accomplishes a wildly impressive sledding feat.  Down the hill for the first few times by himself on the saucer sled.  While the rest of the family looked on in open-mouthed astonishment from the top of the hill, Noah hit a jump, flew for a while, and made the landing with the finesse of a pro.  Sometimes you've gotta sacrifice the body.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmastime is here

Today we celebrate.  As followers of Jesus, we at least claim that we celebrate the birth of our Savior.  I think one of the reasons why this is so hard to follow through on in the playing out of the next 24 hours is that it's so impossible for me to comprehend, although I accept it by faith.  I just cannot grasp the Truth of God becoming a baby.  I mean, just dwell on that for a few seconds, and your head starts spinning.  Kind of like thinking about eternity (forever, and ever, and ever,.....).

God became a baby.  A human baby.

He did it because He loves us so much.  Which is also incomprehensible to me considering how we messed things up so badly.  But even before the banishment from the Garden of Eden, God had promised us a Redeemer, a Messiah that would crush the head of the serpent.

I am just so in awe of Mary.  Can you imagine holding the Son of God in your arms?

The love that was so compelling that God sent Jesus as a baby is the love we celebrate.  It's so much more than a birthday celebration, as some are so fond of telling their preschoolers.  I can understand the sentiment behind that, but it sure waters down the truth for the ones we're trying to teach to follow His ways.  More than a birthday.  Jesus has always been.  And always will be.  Alpha and Omega.  A celebration of a love so magnificent and mysterious that the love I have for my own children is pitifully small in comparison.

Glorify Him in all you do and say.  Always, but especially consciously in the next 24 hours.  Don't let Him get lost beneath the pile of wrapping paper, the pile of dishes, the food.  Invite and savor His presence in the joy and laughter, the fellowship between those we love, and the moments of quiet worship and reflection throughout the day.

And most of all, rejoice!

He gave Himself for you.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Christmas Play

 Noah was a cow "all white and red", from the poem "The Friendly Beasts"

 They looked more like devil's horns...
Noah was ready to take them off.

 Sam played the innkeeper.  Here he is being interviewed by the nightly news.

 Microphones are awesome!

 Caleb was one of the 3 wise men (well, 2 wise men and one wise woman)

 He talked about what they did when they researched the star.  The wise men were "cross-country runners".

The stars.

Christmas plays like this put the children in the special position of proclaiming the gospel through song and the retelling of the events of Christmas.  Sam and Caleb really enjoyed being a part of it!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Not just ornamental - visual

Caleb's ornament commemorating his 2nd year.  

More than ornamental

People use various ornaments for various reasons:

*Many ornaments hold sentimental value and remind the owner of the giver.  Sometimes, they reflect the shared love of a hobby or activity.  Allow the sparked memories to remind you to pray for this person as you hang their ornament.

*Some ornaments are family heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation, and they remind us of the ones we have loved who have gone on before us.  Allow these bittersweet memories to bring to mind the promise of eternal life.  With a shared love in Jesus, we only part for a little while.  Memories can also bring further emotional healing and peace.

*Ornaments on my tree are often the result of an artistic child, and they always bring a smile to my face as I hang them up.  Allow these ornaments to be a reminder of the swiftly passing years, and commit to living each day to the fullest, appreciating each hug given by chubby little arms.  As my children grow into adulthood, I can thank the Lord for the privilege that was placed before me to hold them and care for them for a time.  (My 3 oldest boys happen to be at Grandma's at the moment, and the quiet stillness of the house lends itself well to my imaginings of this time - Gulp, sob.)

*Ornaments can be purely ornamental, just chosen because of their beauty.  What a wonderfully creative God we worship!  He loves and appreciates the beauty of His creation and of His body of believers just as we enjoy the beauty of the glitter and sparkly reflections of light around our tree.

*Ornaments can be reminders of His works - a manger scene, a cross, animals, scenery, a biblical story of God's grace.  It is very, very hard to find ornaments of Bible events, but the boys have ones of Daniel and the Lions, Jonah and the Whale, and Noah's Ark.  This one is self-explanatory.  What a wonderful reminder to have something like that hanging on your tree!  Allow yourself time to reflect on the awesome nature of our Lord as your eyes come to rest on these ornaments.

*Ornaments can be a type of memorial for a special place visited on a vacation, such as the one we have from our honeymoon location.  I allow these ornaments to remind me of the covenant of marriage to which I've entered, the blessing of past years, and the commitment I have to future years, as well as the wonderful memories of that time.

*Ornaments can be frivolous, silly, whimsical characters.  Honestly, we try to stay away from these.  I'm not saying I think they're anti-God, they just don't hold a deeper spiritual meaning for me, and if I'm using the Christmas tree as a reminder of His important trees (see previous posts), I cannot justify using up space on the tree for these.  Let me know if you can think of a good reason for me to change my mind.

May the ornaments on your tree be each a reflection of the grace of God in a particular area of your life as you celebrate His love for you and His gift of Himself this Christmas.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree - visual

Oh Christmas Tree!

"And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground-trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.  In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."  Genesis 2:9

"...On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month.  And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations."  Revelation 22:2

"...a tree is recognized by its fruit."  Matthew 12:33

"The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead-whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree."  Acts 5:30


Trees are very important in the Bible!

Adam and Eve ate freely from the Tree of Life in the garden until they chose to disobey God by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Life and death given from two different trees.

Life and death given on one tree later in history: as Jesus lay dying on the cross, He poured out His life for us.  He gave His life on a tree so that we might have life with Him and one day eat from the tree of life again.

We are even referred to as trees.  Trees producing fruit or not, depending on the indwelling of the Spirit.

The Christmas tree is a kind of memorial of these things that we place in our home during the Christmas season:  the celebration of God becoming human like us to show us His love and restore us to eternal life.

What great promises we can celebrate as we contemplate our tree.  It's okay to make it personal.  It was intended to be taken as such.

"Jesus said, `I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'"  John 8:12
We string small, white lights on our tree.  As I reflect on their beauty, I am reminded of the beauty God sees in us when we reflect His light.

Choose to see Jesus this Christmas in everything you do!