The Loaded Down Christmas Tree

img_9229John 1:12-14

But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. 

 

Thought for the DayRemember special times with family, and remember how God loves you.

Looking at our Christmas tree this morning brought memories of ages past and thoughts of time to come.  Each year, I take many hours to put our twenty-five year old artificial tree up wrapping each limb with lights.  Then, we begin placing the multitude of ornaments on the tree with some finding their place in the depth of the limbs while others hang closer to the outside.  After they are placed and the lights are turned on, a beautiful tree stands.  It is a beautiful tree, I must admit, but the beauty for me comes from the many memories of Christmases past.  I once had a friend who helped me put up my tree the year after my husband died and I was alone in the house.  She made the comment that the tree had too much on it and made me feel that I was wrong in placing so many ornaments on the limbs.  Today, over twenty-years later, I can almost guarantee there are double that many ornaments with each having special memories for my husband and me.  For me, there are ornaments my brothers and I made as children with my “artist” brother painting several, there are the “Mary’s Angels” that my mother gave me each year, there are all the ornaments students and choir children have given me through the years, and ornaments from my parents’ Christmas tree that I inherited.  For my husband, there are ornaments he remembers from his grandmother’s tree, there are ornaments that hung on his parents’ tree as he was growing up, and there are ornaments he was given from friends who knew he collected Coca-Cola memorabilia.  Together, there are ornaments from the first year we got married, there are ornaments from our boys’ first Christmases and those our boys made, and there are ornaments we have given each other through the years.  Do we have too many ornaments on our tree, probably to someone coming in and seeing it for the first time. Do we have too many ornaments on the tree, definitely not as each ornament represents a special time or a special person in our lives.  God has blessed us, and each ornament reminds us of a different blessing.

Christmas is a time when we celebrate the birth of the Christ Child.  Christmas is a time to remember those who are with us now and have gone before.  Amy Grant’s song, “Heirlooms”, takes the thoughts of Christmas past and puts them in perspective that the most important truth of the season is the birth of Christ, which is more than an heirloom.  God sent His precious son to us in the form of a baby, a little baby who would grow up to save us.  That is the truth of the season, and in the midst of the decorations of memories, the truth comes to light on Christmas Day as we say Happy Birthday to our Savior, our Lord.

 

Up in the attic, down on my knees

Life times of boxes, timeless to me.

Letter and photographs, yellowed with years,

Some bringing laughter, some bringing tears.

Time never changes, the memories,

The faces of loved ones, who bring to me,

All that I come from and all that I live for,

And all that I’m going to be.

My precious family is more that an heirloom to me.

Wisemen and shepherds, down on their knees,

Bringing their treasures to lay at His feet.

Who was this wonder, Baby yet king?

Living and dying, He gave life to me.

Time never changes the memory, the moment

His love first pierced through me.

Telling all that I came from, and all that I live for

And all that I’m going to be.

My precious Savior, is more than an heirloom to me.

My precious Savior, is more than an heirloom to me.

Prayer:  Precious God, we praise You today for this wonderful creation.  We are thankful today for the special memories You bring to us as we remember the love of our family.  We thank you for bringing Your son to us so many years ago as that tiny baby in the manger.  Help us remember throughout the Christmas Season that He is the reason we celebrate this time of year.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:   Those having special memories at Christmas

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The Praying Hands

imageIsaiah 41:10

Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.

Thought for the Day:   As we remember loved ones, let us remember how they led us is our faith journey.

Looking through things at my family cabin last week to decide what needed to stay for sale or needed to be packed to bring home was difficult.  In every drawer, cabinet, shelf, or display was something that brought back memories.  The drawers contained trinkets and items that are not worth anything, but when I pulled them out I remembered special things about my Daddy and Mama.  Fishing reels, weights, and lures brought to my mind memories of my Daddy preparing for his fishing days.  Decoupage boxes and pictures were everywhere, hanging on walls and laying in display cases, reminding me of my mother’s many hours in our home kitchen gluing, sanding, varnishing, fine sanding, and buffing the pieces to perfection.  Boxes of puzzles and games such as Trivia Pursuit and Monopoly reminded me of all the puzzle and game times our family had together while we visited the cabin.  The item that grabbed my attention the most and probably was the item I packed the quickest was my Daddy’s praying hands sculpture.  During the years since we visited the cabin, I have wondered where that sculpture ended up.  I thought maybe I had packed it in the attic years ago or that something else had happened to it.  I had been concerned a few times about its whereabouts.  I found a special part of my family memory and now it is a part of our new home.

What was so special about that sculpture?  I have a couple of other praying hand sculptures in our house and I have seen many in stores I have visited.  What makes that special is that it was special to my Daddy and that it was always placed in our home as a constant reminder to pray.  That sculpture adorned special places in my parent’s homes, but it must have adorned my memories as well.  In these years since I last remembered seeing the praying hands, I have often thought about them and wondered where they were.  As a child, people and places become important to our faith journey, and we remember those people and places fondly.  As a child, the praying hands became an important part of my faith journey.  It wasn’t the sculpture though, it was that it was a part of my Daddy’s faith journey and since he shared his faith with me, it is now a part of my faith journey.  What do I think of now as I look over at the Praying Hands on the hearth?  My Daddy’s faith in our precious God.  What do I want my children to think about when they look over at the Praying Hands on the hearth?  Their Mama’s and Grandfather’s faith in our precious God.

Prayer:   God, thank you for memories of times past.  Thank you for memories of not only our faith journeys but the faith journeys of those who have gone before.  As we remember our loved ones in special ways, let us remember most where their faith helped us in our faith journey.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Faith Journey

God’s Protection

Psalms 46:1-3

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. 

Thought for the Day:  God brings peace in the storm

Recently I gave thought to some matching antique china I had found in the attic.  As I continued going through the boxes, I also ran across my mother’s blue depression glass.  As I peeked in each box, my excitement became much like I remember my mother’s excitement when she came home with a new piece.  What a great memory!  When I came home with the many bins of beautiful china and depression glass, I placed them in stacks in the garage.  A couple of days later, my children wanted to practice roller skating so I, in my motherly way, asked them to go out in the garage since there was open space.  A few minutes later, I heard my youngest trying to push off on his skates with a lot of roller sound.  At first, I thought everything was find then I looked out to see him holding onto the bins to keep his balance.  I screamed out, “No, not there!”  All is well…..I caught him before anything happened.  In the next few minutes, I moved all the bins to a safe spot in the dining room where they remain waiting for me to open them once again to find their new place on display.

I protected things very special to me because they were special to someone else.  Isn’t that how God is with us?  No matter how crazy things are in our lives and how out of control things seem, God will bring the protection and peace we need.  Throughout history, we can look back to see His hand guiding people to peaceful and new places of safety.  In the midst of a storm, He calms the sea.  In the midst of danger, He brings safety.  In the midst of turmoil, God brings peace.

Prayer:  Father God, You are awesome.  You bring us to new and safe places as we go through life.  Thank you for Your love, protection, safety, and peace.  Be with us today as we go through our day and guide us in making wise decisions.  Amen.

Prayer Focus:  Those needing protection

 

Boxes and Boxes of China

2 Corinthians 5:16-17

From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer.  Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. 

Thought for the Day:  God brings newness to our live

Bringing home several boxes of my “second grandmother’s”, Jett’s, china was not something I intended on doing.  She was a wonderful family friend who we loved and who loved us so much.  When I thought about her things, I had already pulled out several special pieces to me including a stationery desk and chair, and several smaller items.  Then I started opening the boxes thinking there would be pieces of different china patterns, but that was not what I found.  As I looked closely, I realized that all of the boxes contained the same heirloom china pattern.  In those boxes I found a complete 12 place setting and I literally could not let it go.  My thoughts went to how I could have a wonderful gathering of friends to share a meal and dessert time using this special, beautiful antique china.  What a special treat to open box upon box of some of the most beautiful antique china I had ever seen!

Eleven years ago, when Jett passed away, china was packed into boxes as her house was sold.  Eleven years ago, this china was packed and put aside.  Three days ago, Jett’s china was pulled out and brought to a new place.  Three days ago, this china was made new in my thoughts and in my home.  Isn’t this how God’s love is?  We come to God broken and ready to give up, and He makes us whole.  We come to God feeling old and of no use to those around us, and He brings us renewal.  We come to God with confession, and He forgives us.  We feel a strength and newness inside us that can only come from Him.  That beautiful china for years had been hidden as we seem to feel when we have struggles and difficulties.  That beautiful china has now been found as we find God in our midst.

Prayer:  God, thank you for bringing us newness when we feel broken and old.  Thank you for your precious gift of forgiveness when we confess our sins to you.  Thank you for the gifts that can only come from you.  Be with us today in helping others know You are in their midst.  Be with those today who are facing storms, weather storms and other storms in life.  Amen.