Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christ in Christmas?

It's one of those things we hear everywhere this time of year.  "Keep Christ in Christmas" or remember the "Reason of the Season".  But how do you do that?  I mean really, how DO you?  Just like other sayings it kinda goes in one ear and out the other.  Does it mean that we make sure we read the Christmas story before everyone digs into the presents?  Does it mean we think of those less fortunate than ourselves?   Or maybe it's making sure we have nothing "santa-ish" sitting around. I would love to hear what you guys think...

My brother Jim and his wife playing Joseph & Mary
The past few years Christmas didn't really "feel" like Christmas.  2 years ago we were on our honeymoon.  Last year we were in Florida.  This year I've been so busy with substituting at school and getting everything else done.  It seems like we've been running ever since Thanksgiving.  With organizing the parade and then our church's Nativity the weekend after that, Christmas dinners, and working at my other job on Saturdays, and getting the shopping done... it's been crazy.

So then I think to myself,  "what is Christmas supposed to "feel" like"?  For me, I guess it's different things.  I think mostly to how it was when I was living at home.  Things like making cookies, having the whole family over to do chocolates, the kids coming for a sleepover, rearranging the presents mom had wrapped and driving her crazy, and just spending time with family.

We still do that now but it's different when you're married!  There are more responsibilities and other things to think about.  Like now when there are family get togethers you don't just show up, you're in charge to bring something too!  Life changes and you make new traditions.

I don't know if you've thought about the music playing as you go shopping and do your errands.  Sure, you hear all kinds of songs but what amazes me is the "Christian" songs being played everywhere.  Brad and I went to Red Lobster for our anniversary.  While we were feasting on shrimp and lobster I told Brad to stop and listen.  "Go Tell it on the Mountain" was coming from the speakers.  Did people even hear?  Go tell it on the mountain that Jesus Christ is LORD.  I wonder, with all this politically correct mumble jumble going on, how long will songs like that be played?  For some reason at Christmas, stations that wouldn't even mention Jesus, now play songs telling of his birth and life.  I think we as Christians should celebrate that.  Sure it's just at Christmas time but my prayer is that someone would hear the song and the message in it.  Let's pray that as those songs get played on rock and country stations all over, that someone would hear the song in a whole new way!!! 
This year I again made trays of cookies to take to the neighbors.  We have 2 close neighbors and they are the ones we took cookies to this year.  When we knocked on the door of the neighbor beside us the dear lady said "I guess you heard my husband passed away".  Brad and I were both shocked.  We had no idea!  Here our neighbor had passed away back in September and we had no clue.  No clue that just next door a family had been reeling from the news that their husband/father had cancer and a few short weeks later he was gone.  We stayed and chatted awhile and she told us all about his final days and how things have been since then.  It was a huge eye opener to me to seriously pay attention to those right around us. 

Each year I ask the Lord to show me something new in the Christmas story.  You know how when you hear the same things over and over again you kinda forget about the "story".  It seems every year, something hits me all over again.  With being so involved in the Nativity, there are oppurtunities everywhere to just let the Christmas story sink in.  

This year, it was Joseph.  I don't know exactly when it hit me or when I really thought about it.  He was the daddy to Jesus.  The DADDY to JESUS.  Seriously how would you do that?  A few years ago I thought of Mary and the HUGE calling on her life to be the MOTHER of JESUS but this year I thought of Joseph.  Maybe it was sometime in hearing my brother as he played the character of Joseph.  One of the lines he said was something like "How,  HOW, am I supposed to be a Father to the SON OF GOD?"  Jim did such a good job acting the part and it made me really think.  I wonder what all Joseph went through.  Mary???...yeah I'm sure things were amazing for her too but Jesus was in her womb.  Joseph???  He just had to fill the part.  Jesus was not his flesh and yet he took on the role of his earthly father.  What an amazing man Joseph must have been.  I picture him as this humble man, not easily riled up, confident in who he was and who he was called to be.  He must have loved his wife soo so deeply.  He had to, to not give a rip about what people were fussing about.  I'm sure he was Mary's rock when she got stressed out from the gossip flying all around her and even when she got those moments of "freaking out" about the calling on their lives.

In the stable, in the last scene in the nativity we do,Joseph sings a song called "How Could it Be".  One of the verses in the song goes like this..."Father show me where I fit into this plan of yours.  How can a MAN be FATHER to the SON OF GOD.  Lord for all my life I've been a simple carpenter.  How can I raise a KING."  I've just been letting that soak in.  Joseph took on that responsibility.  I can not imagine how he must've felt.

So back to my question.  How do you make sure that amidst all the hustle and bustle of getting the right gift for the right person, attending parties and get togethers, and do you keep your focus where it should be?  I think for me it's simply asking God to bring things to mind.  Sit down and let your imagination run wild.  How must've it been when Jesus was born.  Teaching first grade is the perfect place to let that happen!  One morning for devotions we talked about that.  Imagine what it was like.  The things they came up with were just precious.  It would be "scary" to be a shepherd and all of a sudden there are angels everywhere etc.!  But that's what does it for me.  Letting my mind go and imagine, and meditating on HIM.

It still baffles me though how ALL of God and who he is fit into one tiny, infant, helpless baby.   That the great and mighty LORD of the earth would humble himself and come down to earth just blows my mind!  And on top of that yet, that poor, little ole me may call him Father and he claims ME as his child...

To me....that is the REASON for the season.
Merry Christmas everyone and don't forget to Keep Christ in your Christmas this year!!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Time's A comin

"Christmas Time's a Comin'...Christmas Times a Comin'...."  My mom used to always sing that song around this time of year and now it's ringing in my head too! 

I know there are lots of people who hate the way that Christmas is pushed before Thanksgiving even rolls around, but I guess I don't really feel that way.  I love having the house all Christmasy and cozy for the holidays.  We only get a few weeks till Christmas is over so I like to make good use of it! 
My hubby is one of the "scroogy" types!  He thinks it's ridiculous that Christmas starts so early.  He did give me "permission" though to decorate after Thanksgiving but not a moment before!.  Well....I got him persuaded to let me start Thanksgiving eve.  Neither of us had to work the next day and were able to sleep in.  We had to go to the barn to get a load of stuff out of there and when we got home we were both still feeling energetic.  Soooo we went to Sheetz around midnight and got us some grub and then got all the Christmas boxes out and ready to go.  We had a blast working into the wee hours of the morning to make our house "Christmasy".  That's the kind of thing that makes memories!

The first Christmas that we were married we were on our honeymoon so we didn't have any decor up.  When we got back from our honeymoon we bought all kinds of stuff on clearance for our Christmases to come including our tree.  I think we got it for like $20.00!  The regular price was over $80.00.  The ornament above we got at Hallmark to celebrate our marriage.  "For love, for life, for keeps, for real"

Brad knew I love Willow Tree and I had mentioned that someday I would love the Nativity set.  Last year around Thanksgiving he said he has my gift.  Should he give it to me now?  Sure why not!  It was the Joseph & Mary, baby Jesus part of the Nativity set.  And then he said that he was going to give me a part to add to it every  year.  I said, Aw, thanks hon!   Then he says "Well, should I just give it to you now?  I have the rest in my truck!"  LOL So,  the depressing part is that I have my gift for the next 3 years.  GROAN.  But it is nice to have all the pieces up and something tells me I'll be getting gifts anyway! ; )

This dear ornamnet was handpainted by my hubby when he was just a young'un.
I didn't buy too much extra this year other than a few auction finds for a dollar or 2!  The candle lamp above I got for $3.00.  The shutter below was Free.  It was pink and I repainted it.  The angel in the scene below that was also a cheap buy.

And then comes cookie day.  OH MY!  Believe it or not, this is the first year that we women got together to make Christmas cookies.  I wanted to try an icing cookie this year so we got together and made it a blast!  Mommie and the preschoolers joined in for some of it too.  There is something so beautiful about generations together.

Now it's the week of Christmas and I am finally getting my Christmas cards in the mail.  The "letter" was typed out about a month ago and then things got crazy and cards got put on the back burner. I thought for sure I'd have them out in good time this year but I stayed true to my procrastinating self!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Parade and Personal Problems!

We are on the committee for our church's annual LIVE NATIVITY.  Oh my is sooo much work but it is also so rewarding.  The month of December finds us running hither and thither.  Of course if some of us didn't procrastinate like we do, things would not be as crazy!  But that's so me.  Always has been, maybe always will be.  The weird thing is though that I'm ok with it.  I think!  I work better "under pressure" and something within me loves the crunch time.  It IS something I am trying to do better in though!

This year, we as a committee, decided to also do a float in a Christmas parade in a town near here.  Brad and I were in charge of organizing it all.  Because of me and my procrastinating dining room and laundry room became painting areas.  It was way to cold to do it out in the garage but had I not procrastinated and done it this fall or even summer *gasp* my house would've been unscarred.  Hey, nothing a good cleaning can't take care of.  I bought some old sheets from Goodwill and just painted the words on there.  We plan to get vinyl banners made to use in years to come.

This is how my kitchen looked almost every day and even for a couple of days in a row.  Shocking I know and embarrassing, but, it's life.  Should I admit something else?  This wasn't even one of the worst days!  Let's just say my poor hubby was very patient through it all and even survived on eggs or sandwiches for supper a few nights in a row. 

The big sign got painted in the laundry room.  I'm still wiping green spray paint off of weird places!!  It got so old walking around this thing too.  And the laundry kept piling up. 

On to the parade.  It was a cold, cold day but the float riders braved it all.  This was our first year in this parade and things were soooo unorganized.  We got shuttled to the wrong place and I had to hike it back the 25 or so miles...ok ok that was a stretch.  Probably more like a mile or 1/2 a mile but it felt like so much more!  We pretty much ended up back where we had gotten shuttled from.  Meanwhile the rest of the group found a bus to ride back on.  All in all it was a fun day and we even tied for 3rd place.  Our prize was $200.00!!!  We were so thrilled.  Click HERE to view the parade.  You have to fast forward it to about 124 to see us! The angels were singing but you can't hear them.  Hopefully we'll have mics next year.

Brad made the stable out of wood from the old barn we took down.  And the sheep (in the picture below)  seriously stole the show.  We think they are the reason we got 3rd.  Next year we hope to put a donkey on the float and get 1st prize!!

Brad got us all started and on our way and then hightailed it out of there to finish up the barn.  So while I was waving to everyone on the parade route, he and a few helpers managed to get it all done!  It now looks like this...

Our garage?  Well that's a different story.  About 2 of the 3 bays are FULL of wood and doors and other barny stuff!  We're in the process of listing some of it for sale and some of it we are keeping for projects.  Projects that could take a year or 2 if we put it off long enough.

I need to wrap this up and get ready to head out the door to our first night of Nativity!  This will be a busy weekend for sure!  Come on out and see us and experience Christmas in a whole new way!