The most treasured Christmas decoration

what-s-the-most-treasured-christmas-decoration-in-your-homeThe most treasured Christmas decoration came with a price

Once upon a time there were three little bears. No, I’m not telling the wrong Christmas story and every detail of this is 100% true. Three little bears are my most treasured Christmas decoration. Sitting 1 ½ inches high, they are hard as walnut shells because that’s what they are made from. Their drab brown fur and dull red Santa hats look like they were etched by a child. You probably wouldn’t notice them, but the most treasured Christmas decoration came with a price – my blood.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Unlike last year, I decorated my own house for Christmas. Let me clarify, I have no talent for decorating, but I climbed the stairs repeatedly over three days to haul my decorations down. My snow village houses still sit snugly in their stryofoam boxes in the attic, but for the first time since I got sick, some of my décor escaped the shelves of the cold storage area to once again fill my house with Christmas. There is a story behind nearly every piece. Of course there is.

Christmas treasures

One of my most treasured memories from Christmas past is decorating the tree. When the kids were little we all wore Santa hats and sipped creamy egg nog. For the record, I’ll go ahead and admit, I have more ornaments than branches to hang them. Still, I could never resist a Christmas souvenir when we traveled. There’s an iguana from Costa Rica, a starfish painted like Santa and a moose in an overturned canoe given in return for a freezing water rescue on the Snake River. Year after year, I held each ornament by the hanger and asked, “Do you remember where we got this?” It wasn’t a hard test, because my family got a lot of practice. I inherited my love for tradition from my mom, but I’m adapting to treasuring old memories and making new ones.

Worth the price

I married young and we were poor. No really, we lived in my grandfather’s trailer park and occasionally he subsidized our rent. As a medical student, I donated my high-demand O positive blood for a ten dollar coupon which was redeemable in the bookstore or gift shop. Back then, we didn’t have money for Christmas decorations so I used my voucher to buy the three little bears. Maybe they don’t look special to you, but to me they are priceless. They represent a hard place and a high price – my blood.

1 Peter 1:18-19, “Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christs’ sacred blood, you know.” MSG

Can you even imagine?

Jesus purchased you with His blood, not a pint, but every drop. His life, His last breath, His righteousness given to redeem you as His own. His most treasured decoration is you. No matter how insignificant you feel, you are His prize and He displays you for His glory. You may think your colors are dull and your features haphazard, but you are enough because you were bought at a price. Imagine how He treasures you and wants you to honor Him.

1 Corinthians 6:20, “You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” NIV

One of the bears holds a sign that reads, “JOY”

Semi-reclined in the vinyl-covered chair, I turned my head as the beveled needle punctured the vein in the crook of my arm.  The viscous red liquid flowed through the tubing and quickly filled the bag. I laid my head back and fought the dizziness because ten dollars was worth a pint of my blood.

Jesus left Heaven ~ because you are worth it

He suffered rejection, ridicule and agony ~ because you are worth it

He gave His life ~ because you are worth it

Hebrews 12:2, “Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame.” NLT

Christmas is about leaving #ChristCameToEarth #Emanuel Click To Tweet

The most treasured Christmas decoration is you. Christmas is about Christ leaving Heaven because you are worth it. Jesus hung on a tree to give you life. He created you for His glory, so get out there and shine. Share the love of Christ, you are His treasure.

Merry Christmas.

For a peek at the bears, join me on Facebook

One thing to remember

Jesus is the reason

Perhaps you’ve known the story since before you could talk or maybe it seems like a fairy tale. You may have the manger scene depicted all over your house and lawn or Christmas may be a season of philanthropy, lights and magical reindeer. You may be full of the Christmas spirit or saying, “Bah Humbug.” Worse, the holiday cheer may be downright depressing.

EXTRAORDINARY

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It was certainly holy but I doubt it was silent

Holy night

I have spent countless hours in the delivery room and I can tell you, it’s anything but silent. Without benefit of modern-day analgesia, childbirth is excruciating. It’s messy and loud too. The night was holy night for sure, but silent?  I seriously doubt it.

Isaiah 26:17, “As a pregnant woman about to give birth writhes and cries out in her pains, so we were before You, Lord.” HCSB

COME QUICKLY LORD JESUS

Especially during the holidays, many are hurting and ready for relief. After forty weeks of discomfort, swollen ankles, miles of travel and hours of labor, Mary needed Jesus to come. I get it. When time drags its hands and feet, when pain is unbearable or when we are simply worn out, then we are ready for Jesus to come too. But it isn’t easy.

Genesis 3:16, “To the woman he said, ‘I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children.'” NIV

NO CRYING HE MAKES?

Jesus is not silent. He cried out to His Father with a loud voice on the cross when His innocent hands were pierced.

Eli, Eli, Iema sabachthani?

Surely He cried when He left His rightful place in Heaven and entered our broken world.

Philippians 2:7, “When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became Human!” MSG

A GOOD CRY

Crying at birth is essential for major physiologic changes to occur. When the umbilical cord is clamped, circulation changes so blood flows to the lungs where oxygen is now exchanged. The newborn baby needs to cry to expand the lungs. I need to cry out to God for changes to occur too. Otherwise I depend on the wrong source-myself. Sound familiar?

Psalm 57:2, “I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.” ESV

THE LOUD CROWD

It may have been a silent night for the shepherds until the angels showed up. I’ve seen some pretty clever birth announcements, but this sets the bar.

Luke 2:13, “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” KJV

ABOVE THE NOISE

God is not silent, but He is holy. Maybe we are the ones who need to be silent in order to hear His voice above the noise. Somehow the season to celebrate His holy birth has become a season of hustle and bustle, perhaps that is why Silent Night is one of the most popular Christmas carols. We long to experience His holiness but our culture struggles with silence.

Habakkuk 2:20, “But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.” NASB

EXPECTANT

I still consider the sound of a crying newborn the sweetest sound in the world. It is evidence of life. Jesus is not silent; He is life-abundant and eternal. Take a moment to be silent before Him, experience His holiness and have yourself a merry little Christmas.

 

More than I wanted to know

More than I wanted to knowHe crinkled his nose after I opened the door. Pest control arrived fully equipped to evict the skunk. He educated me that if the skunk happily lived under the house he would not spray. Something must have upset him which explains the thud I heard before the noxious smell permeated the house. When he returned the next day, there was a captive in the trap. No it wasn’t the skunk, it was the upsetting opossum, which I am now told lives in family units. Looks like they set up a little community under there, complete with raccoons. This is getting worse by the minute. I liked it better when I was oblivious, except the offensive smell became impossible to ignore.

Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.” HCSB

KNOW HE IS GOD

Being still goes against my nature. Let’s be honest, we are polar opposites. My goal is to intentionally embrace rest and silence because I am beginning to understand it is the only way to truly know Him. I am learning to be content in the quiet. Most of us turn on the radio in the car and the television at home. Background noise to drown out the still small voice we don’t want to hear. We resist being still so we play games or scroll through Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter-or read blogs. In the quiet, He gets all up in our business. Sometimes I would rather not know what is living under my house. But then it starts stinking.

1 Kings 19:12, “After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” NIV

CHRISTMAS CHALLENGE

What if the best Christmas gift this year is quiet? #advent #christmas #doyouhearwhatIhear Click To Tweet

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy, “Do you hear what I hear?”

Do you hear God softly speaking to you or do you avoid it?

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It’s not beginning to look like Christmas

It's not beginning to look like Christmas

It’s not beginning to look like Christmas at my house.

Truthfully, it looks more like Wednesday.

My Australian shepherd missed her weekly grooming appointment so clumps of fur collect near the baseboards.The dishwasher is full and I forgot to buy Cascade despite six trips to the grocery store in the last week. It doesn’t look like Christmas at all; it looks like Wednesday, the day after Pepe Le Pew was evicted for the odiferous commotion he created under my house. So yeah, it doesn’t smell like Christmas either.

CHRISTMAS PAST

Usually I haul large, exquisitely-painted Mary and Joseph out of my walk-in attic when Thanksgiving is over. I have the desire to arrange wise men and camels on the coffee table, but I do not have the ability. Christmas is plentiful up there in the attic, thirteen stairs away. Until two years ago I relished the thought of making seventy-five solo trips up and down the beige carpeted stairs, but now I am down here where it’s Wednesday and Christmas is up there in the attic.

And I can’t get there.

MY HEART’S A WRECK TOO

This year my Christmas spirit is jealousy. Oh I’ve seen your posts displaying lavish tables, overflowing mantles and stylish trees wrapped in mesh. That’s nice. Really, I’m glad for you. Maybe the wave of nausea was caused by my medications, anyway, my own inability continues to frustrate me. Traveling delayed my infusion which flared the weakness from myasthenia gravis. Now I feel helpless and useless and selfish. I want to focus on Christ this Christmas but I can’t get the focus off myself.

Romans 7:18, “For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it.” HCSB

ADVENT

The Latin word is Adventus, which means coming. Unless you count opening foil-wrapped chocolates popped out of a December Hallmark calendar, last year was the first time I intentionally observed Advent. The Greatest Gift (Ann Voskamp) added meaning to the season, so I’m making it a personal tradition.

Isaiah 55:6, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near.” ESV

COMING

This season I come with need. I need hope and joy; I need Jesus and I need strength. My desire is to come like Mary, who was full of new life, like Joseph who came obediently, like shepherds who came expecting, like wise men who came worshiping.

So I am bringing my need and my flesh and asking Jesus to come. Come and make me:

full of new life

obedient

expectant

worshipful

Come. Come Lord Jesus. Come into my messy heart.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel

Yes. Come Emmanuel-God with us.

Matthew 1:23, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” KJV

Come into my mess Lord Jesus #advent Click To Tweet

INVITATION

You won’t get an invitation to come to my house this week because it looks like Wednesday instead of Christmas. The lights are tangled in cardboard boxes and wreaths are still draped over wire clothes hangers suspended on a rod. Someone will have to carry my tree down the stairs and I am not sure who I will entrust with the nativity. It’s a mess, inside and out. But I want to focus more on making it look like Christmas in my heart, where it counts.

1 Samuel 16:7, “…For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” NKJV

NEEDY

This year I come empty. I come thirsty with my soul-barren self and know I am not where I need to be, but inviting Him anyway.

Come to the season needy. Is there any other way?

Revelation 22:17, “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” NIV

MY INVITATION

If you’ve accepted my invitation to join me on the porch, thanks. Writing is more fun when you read. If you want my posts in your inbox, enter your email address and you will receive it on Saturdays. Older blogs show up on Facebook every Wednesday. I invite you to join me on the porch, but please don’t come inside the house until after Friday. Thankfully, help is on the way.

How to make Christmas special

How to make Christmas specialChristmas was different last year.

I couldn’t do much.

I couldn’t shop.

I couldn’t decorate.

I couldn’t host any parties.

I couldn’t cook.

Thanks to myasthenia gravis, I couldn’t even walk but a few feet.

Psalm 73:26, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” ESV

SPECIAL SEASON

It was a special season. Online shopping took less time and less money, not to mention eliminated the stressful hustle and bustle. A friend volunteered to decorate my house and with my mother’s help, it looked much better than when I decorated myself. I was given a present; Ann Voskamp’s book The Greatest Gift. This interactive book helped me focus on advent. Indeed, it was a special season.

Exodus 33:14, “Then He replied, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.'” HCSB

A SEASON OF FREEDOM

This year I can walk and drive but I am not shopping. My family has decided to forego exchanging gifts entirely. I feel free. I’ve asked my friend to come back and help decorate. Also I want to read the book again. But it really isn’t a book to simply read, it is a book to do. I expect it will be a special season again.

Luke 8:40, “Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him, for they were all expecting him.”NIV

INVITATION

You're invited

My friend Kim has a unique invitation so we can do the book together.  I am looking forward to it and I hope you will join us.

CLICK HERE to join Hunt and Host‘s ARTISTIC EVENT.

She’s pretty talented. If you don’t believe me, check out Hunt and Host on Pinterest. If you follow me, I have a few of Kim’s projects pinned so you can look there.

Luke 2:13, “Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others-the armies of heaven-praising God…” NLT

IDEAS WELCOME

Since we aren’t going to have presents to unwrap on Christmas, we aren’t exactly sure what we are going to do. Obviously we will eat and probably play games, but I would love to hear your family traditions and ideas for making Christmas special.

Luke 2:14, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is well pleased.” NASB

TRUE GIFT

Of course the true gift is Jesus. To make Christmas special, we are going to have to focus on Him. After all, Christmas is supposedly a season to commemorate His birth, but I rarely see it. This year I plan to look harder.

Matthew 2:2, “Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east and are come to worship him.” KJV

The advent begins December 1 so be sure and sign up before then. I look forward to our journey together.