Category Archives: holiday

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

 

 

Carl’s Vacation

IMG_3185

Carl”s Vacation

Carl went on vacation last week.  After the episode with his sister bulldog, it was determined that the two dogs needed to be separated. So Carl went down to the coast for a couple of days of sun and relaxation.

As we drove him down to his getaway, we were kind of sad to see him go. We knew his needs would be met but it was still upsetting to think he would be away for the week.

Each night, we would get an update on how he was doing and if he seemed upset to be away from home. And every night we were told that he was doing well, walking to the water, working on his tan, but mostly enjoying being the center of attention.

Being the center of attention is what everyone craves. Deep down we want to be recognized for accomplishing a major undertaking, winning a prize, or just being first. If only the recognition could truly satisfy us. But it never really does.  Once I finish one endeavor, I am ready to begin another with the hopes that I will find the same brief satisfaction.

So if being the center of attention doesn’t bring the satisfaction that we seek, what does?  I have heard that the kingdom of God is an upside kingdom. The world screams at us that it is important to be famous and rich in order to be happy.

The upside kingdom of God tells us something totally different. Instead of having the spotlight on us, we need to intentionally take it off ourselves and place it on God. Jesus states in Matthew 16:25, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”

Interesting concept.  Instead of trying to make life about us as the main character, we should give God the lead role. Then and only then will we find a sense of satisfaction that we all yearn for.

Carl came home from his time away two days ago. It is hard to tell if he would rather be with us or back in his holiday setting. Either way, just like all of us, it really isn’t where we are but who we think we are.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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?

 

A Vacation for Carl

Carl wanted me to let everyone know that he is doing well but wanted to take a little vacation this week. He is enjoying this special holiday and all the food that goes along with it.  Carl has been receiving treats through out the day and hopes to get a couple of pieces of hamburger or hot dogs  right off the grill this evening.

Carl will be going to bed early tonight and forgoing the fireworks. The noise  startles him and his body will begin to shake.

He wishes everyone a wonderful day and will be back with all of his antics next week.

IMG_2004