Category Archives: Christmas

Our Deepest Desire

It was clear what Carl wanted. We were sitting at the breakfast table when Carl placed his paws in my lap.  Looking at me with those soulful brown eyes, if he could speak, he would be asking for some of the sausage dish that could be seen on our plates.

I pushed his paws off me and firmly told him that he would not be getting any food off my plate. With a sad demeanor, Carl turned from me and slowly walked back to the couch and curled up in his familiar spot.56605741629__FFAC95CB-502E-4A67-BCDA-3817A1CED79C

Carl is not the only one that wants.  We all do.  And the want list only seems to increase during the holiday season. Children are conditioned from birth that Christmas means getting what you want. Presents are stacked under the tree by parents with the hope that their loved ones will find enjoyment from the gifts that are given.

But if you think about it, will the presents fill the desire of what we really want?  As the gifts are unwrapped, a sense of anticipation rises up in our hearts. But no matter what is inside, it just can’t give us the long lasting satisfaction that we all yearn for.

So where can we find this satisfaction that our hearts so desperately desires? Will it be in the things that take up the space in our homes? Or in the accomplishment of a lifetime goal? Could it come through a relationship that has been sought after?

What if our greatest want or desire could be satisfied by the baby in the manger? The newborn cuddled up in the hay.

Take a long look at the babe.  The one that the angel told the shepherds to come worship.  The one that the star directed the wise men to. God’s only son. Christ the king.

So often we lose sight of the gift that God has given us. The only gift that will fill the void that He actually created within us.  So in this season, let us not forget the reason to celebrate. If this means opening up your Bible and reading the story as it is actually written, do it. Or if music can resonate in your heart, play music that is intended for worship of our savior’s birth.

Carl will surely return to the table and try to persuade me to give him what he wants. And as he places his paws on my lap and looks at me with his soulful brown eyes, I will use this as a reminder of what is truly desired.IMG_4656

“Thank you Lord for sending your only begotten Son to earth as a baby. I want to particularly thank you for allowing this baby to grow into a man, one that understands my frailty and temptations. Thank you for allowing Him to die on the cross so that I can live life to the fullest.”

Why Someone Like Me?

Carl had to adjust his eyes when the bright light was turned on.  It was clear he had been woken from a deep dream. The light made him shake his head and get his bearings.

Just as Carl had to adjust to the light, I can’t imagine what the shepherds in the field thought when they were awoken on that Christmas morning so many years ago.IMG_2345

Luke 2:9-11 states, “An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

It is hard to imagine how the shepherds must have reacted to the appearance of the angels. Given that they were the outcasts of society, they probably were pinching themselves and questioning why would God send His messengers to us with the news of His Son?

We may ask the same question.  Why would God send His Son into the world to be born in a smelly stall by a teen age peasant? And instead of sending his angels to more reputable people, he chose the lowest of all the social classes to share in this miracle.

Why is it such good news to know that Jesus wasn’t born a king but a peasant? Because it allows every person who ever walked, walks, and will walk on this earth an opportunity for a relationship with Him.

If He had come as nobility, it would have portrayed a God who only felt a certain social class was worthy of His salvation. Instead, He entrusted the news of His Son’s birth to shepherds.

As Carl adjusted his eyes to the light, it was clear that he was wide awake and watching my every move. Once I began to leave the room, he jumped off the couch and followed me down the hall. Just as Carl followed me, I am sure the shepherds had all the sheep follow them into Bethlehem to witness the miracle that would change the world.IMG_2788

 

 

Left in the Manger

Carl doesn’t understand Christmas with all the comings and goings. Our schedule has changed with all the parties and people dropping off gifts. All the changes seems to have caused our pooch to become edgy and he appears to only want life to get back into a normal routine.

I enjoy spending time with friends, baking cookies, and getting into the shopping rush but I also like the predictability that life has provided us over the last couple of years. One of those routines that I have enjoyed the most is writing this blog and reflecting on how Carl may view life along with a spiritual lesson that I feel the need to share.

This season I have particularly been preoccupied with the reality of what actually happened two thousand years ago in a stable that could have been easily the side of a cliff. With the sound of Christmas music in the background, I can’t help but feel that many of us only know Jesus as the little baby lying in swaddling clothes in the manger with a bright light shining all around him.  Oh and let’s not forget the shepherds and the wise men that came by to worship the baby.

Just as they left with baby Jesus lying in the manger, we can easily walk back into our lives without considering who this baby grew up to be. As you begin to step away from this season, consider the young mother who couldn’t walk back into her previous life. Instead in Luke 2:19 it states, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

For the next thirty-three years, she must have pondered over who this baby had become. And as she stood near the cross where her son was being crucified, she must have only been comforted by the knowledge that she knew that He was truly from God and was God.

So give yourself a true Christmas present this year. Open the Book that God gave us. The one that may be collecting dust. Turn to the third chapter of Luke and follow the journey that Mary must have taken as she watched her baby become a man.

Carl is getting antsy as he notices that we are getting ready to leave once more. This time to the Christmas program that our church puts on each year. He is following us around like he knows that we will be exiting any minute. And as we close the door behind us, he will find his way back to the comfort of his sofa.

Carl and I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a New Year full of God’s eternal treasures.

As a side note: Please let me know if I should continue to write this blog by liking it or writing a short comment. I am considering taking up a different style of blogging but would like input from you before doing so.

IMG_2788

Front Row Seat

I have to make a confession. Neither Carl nor I like the night time. I don’t like driving in the dark and you won’t see Carl or I walking after the sun has set. But if there was to be an exception, it would have to be during the Christmas season when many have their houses lit up with glowing lights.

IMG_2428

My distaste for the darkness of night gives me more respect for the shepherds that spent night after night tending to their sheep. Instead of being nestled in their beds they were out in the fields protecting their livestock from the dangers of the dark.

As we all have probably experienced in the darkness, shadows take on a life of their own. We can think we see something but in the light, it ends up being nothing but an overblown imagination.

But this was different. Instead of a shadow, an angel surrounded by a brilliant light appeared among the shepherds. Their initial reaction was a deep seated fear of this heavenly being. But as quickly as the fear set in, the angel comforted them with words that would be remembered for the rest of time.

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12.

As the shepherds were digesting these words, what happened next sealed their belief that this was truly from God. “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:13-14.

And sure enough, the shepherds left the field and found the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger. After seeing the baby, they were so filled with joy that they couldn’t stop talking about the child and what the angel had told them.

Why did God have his angels appear to these shepherds? What was it about these men that gave them a front row seat to the most incredible event of mankind? Weren’t shepherds considered unreliable and on the bottom of the social ladder? Weren’t shepherds unable to enter the temple because they were considered unclean?

Humble hearts. These men were chosen for their humble hearts. Even today, God doesn’t choose the prideful man with everything this world can offer. Instead He seeks out the ordinary. The ones that have a hunger in their hearts for the truth.

Just the other night, I was driving through a neighborhood with all the lights of Christmas all around me. As I rode in awe of the lights that portrayed different interpretations of Christmas, I couldn’t help but think how pale it all was compared to the brilliance of the glory of God that lit up the skies on that night so many years ago.

 

 

 

An Allusive Light

Every once in a while when I have the flash light in my hand, I get tempted to put the lazar function on and trace it over the floor. It only takes a minute until Carl spots the light and begins to hunt it down. He usually gets very excited and will slip and slide all over the floor until the light is turned off.

What is it about the light that causes such a reaction from my dogs? And why does this light cause Carl to become so consumed that he is willing to do anything to get to it?

More importantly, what was it about the star that rose in the sky after the birth of Jesus that caused the wise men to leave their homes and travel thousands of miles to find the baby? For months, they traveled, gazing up at the star that was directing them towards Bethlehem.

It is interesting that they are referred to as wise. Dictionary.com defines the word “wise” as “having the power of discerning and judging properly as to what is true or right; possessing discernment, judgment, or discretion.”

I am sure many didn’t see these men as wise as they packed their gifts and headed out into the desert in search for an unknown destination. Even so, every night when the shadows of the last light slipped behind the horizon, the star would appear even brighter than before.

As they drew closer to the Christ child, their excitement must have grown. And when they arrived in Jerusalem, people began to talk about them. They seemed so determined to locate this baby that King Herod called them into his chambers to find out more.

But being wise, they knew that this king only wanted ill will for this infant. So after leaving Jerusalem they determined not to go back to the king with the infant’s location.

Finally, after months of travel, they arrived at their destination. There was nothing about the house they entered that would indicate royalty. The parents were apparently very poor and the baby had no physical trait that would indicate that he would become a king over all humanity.

But none of that mattered. These men knew that they were in the presence of God. In reverence, they knelt in front of the baby and his mother and laid down their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

These men must have felt a satisfaction that can only come from being in the presence of God. Unlike them, Carl will never feel the satisfaction of catching the light that is so allusive.

img_2164.jpg

No Comfy Beds

Carl loves a good walk. Because his snout is a little longer than most French Bull Dogs, he can tolerate an extended walk in both the heat and the cold. But as much as he loves to walk, when he is close to home, he picks up his pace and is clearly happy to walk through the doors and lie on the cool floor and drink from his water bowl.

I also enjoy walking but after about three miles, I am also glad to make my way through the screened in porch and into my house where I can sit down and rest. I have to say that I am truly grateful for the ability to return to my temperature controlled home with all its amenities on a daily basis.

Sometimes, during this season of the year, we can romanticize the birth of Jesus. But in reality, what Mary and Joseph had to go through was truly difficult. Instead of a three mile walk, they had to walk over a hundred miles to get from Nazareth to Bethlehem. This journey for a woman who was nine months pregnant had to be extremely challenging.

Joseph wasn’t sure how he would provide for his young bride and the baby that would come. He knew that many people would be coming to Bethlehem to be counted among the census and that rooms would be hard to come by. He only had his faith and the knowledge that God would provide for them.

Exhausted and famished, Joseph and Mary went from place to place to find a bed to lay their heads. No temperature controlled rooms with cold water coming out of a tap. No comfy beds with tons of pillows that we mold around our bodies. Not even a hard floor of an extra spare room.

When all options seemed closed, a farmer offers his barn for the young couple to reside in. Too tired to turn the offer down, the two make their way into the smelly space where they were greeted by a couple of sheep and a donkey.

For most of us, we would ask where God was in all of this. But I am sure Mary kept repeating the words that the angel told her nine months ago. “For with God, nothing will be impossible.” Matthew 1:37. She believed that He would give them what they needed. She only had to trust.

Carl has no reason to believe that his needs will not be met. Just yesterday when the temperatures were in the thirties, we purchased a coat for him and his sister Bee so they would be warm as we took a walk on the trail.  Which got me thinking. If we are willing to make sure our animals are taken care of, why wouldn’t God, our creator, take care of our needs?

IMG_2002

 

 

 

The Gift of Friendships

Poor Carl. He was barred from his bed and once again had to sleep on the couch. Bee, stood in the doorway and made it crystal clear that he was not going to enter. So instead of experiencing the abuse of the Frenchie, he turned and walked down the darkened hallway to sleep alone.IMG_2403

I am sure he feels that no one understands his plight. Others would call him a wimp if they knew how his smaller sister was bullying him. As much as I wish I could teach him to stand up for himself, Bee has taken the role of the alpha and they need to work it out.

Mary must have felt similar feelings when the angel came to her and told her that she would carry the Son of God in her womb. Who would have any understanding of the situation and how to find peace in it?

When we go through trials alone, we can become very self-absorbed and just feel sorry for ourselves. But if we can find someone that has gone through a similar situation, we can find peace and purpose in our hardships.

God knows us and knew the importance of having someone for Mary at this time. Luke 1:39-41 states, “At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”

For the next three months, Mary stayed with Elizabeth as she came to full term and delivered her baby. This must have been a very special time for both of these women as they shared the joy of being a first time mother.

God loved these two women so much that He gave them each other at such a sensitive time in their lives. And if He demonstrated his love for these women by giving them each other, why shouldn’t we acknowledge His love in the friendships that He has given us?