Archive | December 2015

Skinny Elbow

Ahhh—Christmas is over for another year! As much as we love Christmas, I know most women are probably breathing a sigh of relief.  We can finally sit down and relax after weeks of shopping, baking, decorating, wrapping and partying.  I was exhausted, and per my husband’s orders, have barely moved now for two days!

All that sitting has given me time to reflect on some of the fun times we had. Christmas Eve is the big event in our family, when my mother and all my siblings and their families gather together to celebrate.  My two girls and their families (17 in all) and one niece and her family (another 5) could not be there—but we still had 29 of us—a nice big crowd!  We had an amazing array of goodies—umpteen appetizers, cookies, candy, pizza…  Santa made a “surprise” visit for the little ones with a present for each of them from his sack.  (Robbie got a big cow bell—he was thrilled; the rest of the family not so much!)  Of course there were gifts for all under the tree.  And then there was the infamous annual photo shoot of each family, and my mom and her children and grandchildren.

The photo shoot. My least favorite part of the evening.  Oh, it’s fun to watch the children as we try to get them to smile—or at least stay in one place, keep their fingers out of their mouths or noses and look at the camera.  It is nice, too, to see how some of them are growing up into fine young adults.  I hate having my picture taken, though, so I would just as soon skip that activity.  This year my sister introduced something to the photo shoot that has had me chuckling ever since.

Her family was up first. Cheree stood there proudly with her two sons, daughter-in-law and three

Would you believe this is me with my skinny elbow on Christmas Eve? No? Oh, well—I didn’t think so. *Sigh* Would you believe this is me with my skinny elbow on Christmas Eve? No? Oh, well—I didn’t think so. *Sigh*

randchildren, hand on her hip, elbow pointed toward the camera and smiled.  “This is my skinny elbow!” she proclaimed as we laughed at her pose.  “My friend told me to do the skinny elbow, and you’ll look skinnier in the pictures!”

“Oh, boy!” the rest of us ladies chortled. “We’re going to have to do the skinny elbow now, too!”  And most of us did, laughing as we posed.  Whether or not we actually looked skinnier remains to be seen since I haven’t seen the pictures yet, but I sure would like to think we did!  Even my 85 year old mother wanted to get in on the act, but she was sitting surrounded by her children and grandchildren with no room to do the skinny elbow.  “Not fair!” she laughed.

I sure would love to have skinny—anything! Waist, hips, thigh, bu—well, you get the idea.  Why, just this morning I was thrilled to inform my husband that I had a skinny foot! (My right foot has been swollen ever since I injured it on the first of November, and it got even worse this week when I was so busy getting ready for Christmas.  Bob made me sit with it propped up since Christmas night and it has helped tremendously.)

Most of us would like to be at least a little skinnier than we are—and there are a lot us who would love to be a lot skinnier!  I used to want to lose weight so that I would look better—now at my age I just want to be healthier.  Did you know the #1 New Year’s Resolution in this country is to lose weight?  No surprise, huh?  More people join gyms and/or weight loss organizations such as Weight Watchers, buy self-help books, and try all manner of tips and fads to get fit and healthy in the New Year New years resolutions written in notebook and fruits, dumbbells with centimeterthan any other time of the year.  Each year about one third of Americans vow to lose weight/get healthy/get physically fit in some way, and about 75% of those people have stuck to their resolution one week later.  Less than one half (46%) are still working on that goal six months later.

The noun resolution has its stem in the adjective resolute, meaning “firmly resolved or determined; set in purpose or opinion; characterized by firmness and determination; firm, steadfast, fixed, unwavering, undaunted.” Many people blithely make a list of New Year’s Resolutions, but without the “firm, steadfast, determined resolve” it takes to stick to them, that list is not worth the paper it’s written on.

People began making New Year’s resolutions back in the ancient days of the Babylonians. Three thousand years later we still strive to make plans and set goals to improve ourselves and be happier in the upcoming year.  And three thousand years later we still break them as easily as we make them.

We Christians, however, have help accessible to us if we would just avail ourselves of it. When God is involved in whatever we do, we can succeed.  First of all, we ought to ask, are these plans and goals God’s will for my life?  Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.” What is the motivation—do I want to lose weight to be beautiful or to be healthier?  Is this desire God-honoring or self-honoring?  Do I want to glorify the temple of the Holy Ghost or glorify myself? “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (I Corinthians 6:19, 20)

After the Why? we should ask the How? Whatever God calls us to do, He will provide the wherewithal to philippians-4-13do it.  (I Thessalonians 5:24) He has promised His strength“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13) “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”  (John 15:5)  We do not need to rely on our own strength or willpower when we are trusting completely on Him and yielded to accomplishing His will.

He will give us the strength and determination to accomplish what He has set before us.  Daniel was an example to us of a godly young man who had the determination to do God’s will. “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.”  (Daniel 1:8)  We need determination and a commitment to fulfill whatever God asks of us.  “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto psalm37men.” (Colossians 3:23)  When we do this, He promises victory. “Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.” (Psalm 37:5, 6)

The Bible says, “When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.  Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.”  (Ecclesiastes 5:4, 5)  Think of a resolution as a vow to yourself—and to God.  Better not to make the resolution at all, than to make it and break it.  Better yet—make it and reach that goal!



The Lights of Christmas

From Sundays with Cindy, December 2009 –

Oh, how I love Christmas lights! To drive down the street and see the neighborhood transformed into something pretty and sparkly on a frosty winter night, and main streets and malls ablaze with color and light… To watch the lights on my own tree twinkle and shine in all their multi-colored splendor…  To bask in the warm glow of cozy firelight or candles…  I love Christmas decorations, but if they’re lit up, all the better!

My Christmas tree cannot have too many lights. Bob and I go through that discussion every year.  “YouChristmas lights5 don’t need more lights,” he says.  “Yes, I do!” I insist.    This year I got back from Ecuador to find that he had put the tree up for me and put on the lights.  It’s pre-lit – but not enough for me.  I add several more strings.  Last year it had almost 1000 lights.  Bless his heart.  He was doing something really special and sweet for me – but to my shock and dismay I discovered he had put three strings on that didn’t even work!  He forgot to test them first.  I took them off and went out to buy some more lights on December 8th, and to my further shock and dismay, discovered Target and WalMart were totally out of lights and weren’t getting any more this year!  I got the one box I could find and had to settle for that, but next year I’ll be out in October buying more lights!

I love light. I’m one of those people whose mood is affected by dark, gloomy days.  I wish my living room got more sunshine.  One of the things I loved most about living in Colorado was the 300 days a year of bright, sunshiny weather and its big, clear blue sky. I love sparkly things – the Electric Parade at Disney World; fireworks; stars as you drive down a dark highway at midnight; sunlight as it glints of the surface of a lake; gaudy sweaters…  What is it about light that we all like so much?  As I thought about the lights of Christmas, I realized that there are several things that lights do that relate to us – we who are to let our lights so shine in this world that they might glorify our Father who is in Heaven.

John 1:9 says, “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” Jesus said in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” He also tells us in Matthew 5:14a, 16, “Ye are the light of the world… Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Christmas shoppingThe first thing I realized light does is attract. You know how a porch light in summer attracts moths and other creepy, flying little critters.  That’s why merchants use neon signs and spotlights and begin putting up their Christmas lights and decorations in October – to attract shoppers and their money.  As lights in this dark world, our lives ought to attract others to ourselves, and ultimately to the Lord.  They should see something in us that they want in their own lives.  A Christian who is living her life for the Lord will stand out.  Her compassion and kindness will attract and bring opportunities to tell others about the love of the Lord.

Secondly, light illuminates.  Candles are a beautiful symbol of the Light of the World who came at Christmas to pierce the darkness of this world.  If you were to go into a deep, dark cave and light just onechristmascandle little candle, you would be amazed at how that one small flame would illuminate and brighten the blackness of that space.  Light reveals what the darkness hides.  Have you ever tried to put on your makeup in fluorescent light?  Yikes!  It reveals every flaw, every spot and wrinkle!  The glory of the one, true Light of Christmas revealed to sinful men His perfection and their own sin and shortcomings.  To some it brought conviction and repentance.  To others it brought hatred and the desire to extinguish that Light.  We are not perfect like He was, but the light of our lives as we strive to live holy, separated  lives unto Him will bring conviction to those around us.  Not everyone will love us.  Some will scorn us, but deep in their hearts they will be convicted of their own sinfulness.

The third thing that light does is provide warmth.   How wonderful to snuggle close with a loved Christmas fireplaceone in the flickering light of a crackling fire!  To draw close to the fireplace, or a bonfire and warm you hands and toes and backside at the fire – ummm!  The light of our lives should provide warmth also for those around us.  Our love is the fire that will provide comfort and encouragement and warm the hearts of those attracted to our lights.  Jesus called us lights, but He also said they will know us by our love.  Do others feel the warmth of your love and compassion?

Of course, the most obvious thing we notice about the lights of Christmas is how they beautify. I enjoy driving around and looking at the lights. What a difference they can make!  They can christmas-and-city-lights-rockefeller-center-2006-1-muriel-levison-goodwinturn an old, run-down neighborhood into a beautiful fairyland of twinkling, sparkling beauty.  I can never decide which I like best – the elegance of all white lights, or the gaiety of multi-colored lights.  They’re both beautiful to me.  Our everyday, ordinary living room is transformed each year when we bring out the decorations and tree with all its special ornaments and twinkling lights.  The lights are turned on from the moment I wake up in the morning until I go to bed at night.  There is nothing sadder-looking to me than an unlit tree.  And when the lights are reflected in windows and mirrors, it’s even more beautiful!  That’s how the light of our lives should be – reflecting His light, brightening and beautifying this world.  Do you remember the old chorus, “Let the Beauty of Jesus Be Seen in Me”?  I pray His beauty and light is reflected in my life.

As we think of the lights of Christmas, we cannot forget the Star — the star that appeared as a Christmas_Wise_Mensign to the wise men, announcing the birth of the King of kings… the star that led them mile after mile, month after month directly to the house where the young child lay. That light was a sign and a guide, and so ought our lives to be – lights that point the way to the one true light of Christmas, Jesus Christ.

This is the one time of year when the world looks in our windows and sees our lights. This is the one time of year when perhaps they are more receptive to hearing about spiritual things.  And yet we have the Light, the Truth, the best Gift of all – Jesus – all through the year.  Let’s not be guilty of dragging out the boxes of lights, dusting off the old heirlooms and traditions and putting them on display once a year.  Our lights ought to shine brightly all year long, reflecting the true light of Christmas that attracts and illuminates, warms and beautifies, and guides lost ones to an eternal and personal relationship with Him.


The Lights of Christmas

The night is bright with moon aglow,

Reflecting off new-fallen snow,

And up and down the street I see

The twinkling lights on homes and trees,

And in the windows candles burn.

It seems that everywhere I turn

The lights of Christmas brightly shine,

Reminding of that ancient sign –

A star.

A star whose brilliance pierced the night,

Whose glory was a wondrous sight.

A star which eastern wise men saw,

And filled their seeking hearts with awe.

A star which left a blazing trail

That led to a King so small and frail.

And yet the babe they found that night

He is the one true Christmas Light.

The Light.

In Him was life and light of men

To shine in a world made dark by sin.

His glory far out shone the star

And reached down to men who’d wandered far.

For like the star the Light had come

To show lost man the way back home.

The true Light of Christmas – Praise His name!

The Light of Christmas, Jesus, came!




Living Courageously

I had planned to write another Christmas blog this week, but the Lord has brought something else our wayfearnotheadlines this week that I believe He wants me to share. In light of the events we are seeing in our own country and around the world, I have wanted to address the issue of terrorism and fear.  This week I read something that my cousin Kami Rice wrote, and I asked her if I might share it with you.  Kami is a freelance writer and lives in France.  Her testimony is a compelling one, and her message in the following article is powerful.  Kami lives courageously in a dangerous world—courageously because of her faith in our strong and mighty God.  Here is her story:


Releasing Fear, Embracing God

By Kami Rice

I come by fear honestly. It’s embedded in my genes, not the best gift among the other better heritages that live down the lines of my family. I first climbed deeply into the pit of fear when I was about 13 years old. I kamirwas dragged down there initially by some thyroid hormones that were out of whack, but I wasn’t released from the prison just by correcting the hormone levels. Fear had gained a foothold and wasn’t quick to relinquish it.

By my early 20s, I’d mostly climbed out, but soon, in my mid-20s and partly triggered by stress, I was plunged deep again. I finally went to counseling and was nearing the end of the recovery road in 2001 when four planes were flown into buildings and fields around the United States, in places I had lived, no less, and places where I had friends — places that were known to me.

Our entire country was plunged into the depths of fear. So I was confronted by the choice of whether to join my compatriots. Because fear is a choice, you see. And I chose then not to jump back into the prison I had only recently escaped. I had begun to taste the freedom of a life in which fear doesn’t dominate. And such a life was real life, a million times more full than the one “lived” in fear’s prison.

In the mysterious way of the Lord’s work in our lives, he had been releasing me from fear, in part by drawing me closer to him, into deeper dependence on him. At 13 years old, it had been the fear that was the turning point in my adolescent relationship with the Lord: I had to seek someone who was greater than the things I feared, and in seeking him, my relationship shifted from being an acquaintance with someone grand whom I was trying to please to a real relationship with someone who loves me.

I believe Scripture gives words again and again to what I’ve experienced firsthand: As God has released me from fear’s control and put my life under his control instead, I’ve been released to live life more nearly as God has intended. I’ve been free to pursue the paths the Lord has laid out for me, paths that wind through unknown places and have ends I can’t see, paths that lack nearly all the security our culture has taught us to value. Fear would have loved to keep me from the rich vistas of these byways and from the gifts I’ve given and received along their way.

Most recently, these byways have been French ones, since my arrival in France, potently, on September 11, eiffel-tower2012, to study the language. But they have also wound around the world from Zimbabwe and Congo, to Haiti and Brazil, to India and Bosnia, and more. My very not-financially-secure work as a freelance writer has given me conversations with fascinating people the world over, ranging from American women living in housing projects to a former president of Uganda. It has also been the fodder of much of the Lord’s discipling of me.

If I had let fear lead the way and had chosen instead a “secure” life, I would have missed out on these experiences and conversations and relationships and the resulting growth. And that’s the thing with fear. Fear wants to make the decisions. So when we give in to it, when we pursue safety above all else, at least two things happen. First, we’ve displaced the role God wants to play in our lives and, thus, in our world. It should be the Lord making the decisions we follow. Not fear. And second, we’ve bought into a lie. No matter how hard we try, true safety isn’t actually possible. There are always things that fall very far outside our control.

Now I’ll be honest: this is not all to say that I no longer experience fear. I’m as nervous as the next person when the airplane hits some turbulence or I encounter some other name-your-scary-scenario. But with deep dependence on the Lord, I work hard not to let fear make my decisions for me, and I’ve never regretted that.

It’s important to acknowledge that idolizing safety and comfort are cultural values in America, and other places too. But these are not biblical values. The Bible is chock full of stories in which God pushes his people into very uncomfortable situations, pushes them out of their comfort zones. When his people accept his nudges and leading, God gets the glory, and no matter how hard the road is, we who follow it live and live better for our obedience, whether that road leads us to Africa or to invite our neighbor over for dinner.

It’s one of those great paradoxes in life that fearfully trying to avoid all threats actually imprisons us rather than freeing us. It’s in facing the things we’re afraid of, rather than shrinking back from them, that we find real freedom and flourishing and that fear’s power is dismantled.

We live in an era in which big, complex questions are being debated — for example, should we let refugees into our country? — and there’s no ten-step checklist for determining how to achieve the most good for the most people. The same relationship that we cultivate with the Lord to keep fear at bay should also guide us as we communally and individually make thick, hard decisions. I don’t think Scripture recommends taking risks simply for the sake of taking a risk, for the high of living to tell about it. But I do believe it guides us to listen deeply for the Holy Spirit’s voice and to go where that voice leads, knowing that whatever risk we find there has less power than God does.

If the Christians among us really believe what we say we believe — that we are in relationship with a God who is bigger than all of the world’s scary things and that we know what our ultimate good future is — we have no reason to live in fear, because life on earth is not the end. Rather than seeking safety as our guiding goal, we must be seeking relationship with the God who is bigger than all of the possibilities that make us quiver in fright.

Sometimes this God asks us to trust him enough to take some risks for the greater good — and amazingly this is actually where we find the very thing we wrongly think pursuing safety will give us: a full, flourishing life that rests along the byways God has created us to follow.

Nearly three weeks ago, as news of the November 13 terrorist attacks in Paris began making their way around the world, concerned friends began posting on my Facebook wall and texting me. My French home is quite far from Paris — in Marseille, which is on France’s Mediterranean coast, seven to eight hours away by car — though I had visited the City of Light briefly two weeks prior.

As messages rolled in, I was struck by the repetition of two words in particular: safe and safety.

I, too, was glad I was safe. I was glad my Parisian friends were safe.

But I still find myself wondering how well we believers cling to the angel’s words to a group of shepherds one night long ago: “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11, NASB)

What might the world look like if we were to live like we believe what that messenger of God said?

kami rice


The Scriptures say “fear not” 365 times. I am so glad Kami ended her piece this week with the verses from Luke 2, “And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” It is expressly because the Savior was born that we need have no fear.  He has brought salvation for all who trust in Him—salvation from sin and the wages of sin, which is an eternity in hell; salvation from fear and worry, grief and pain, anger, addiction, bitterness and care.

That is not to say we never experience these things, but when we are trusting God, not only for our eternal salvation—what happens after this life—but for our life in the here and now, we can live fearlessly, courageously, knowing that God is in control over all.  Isaiah 41:10 says, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”  He is in control and He walks with us, upholding us with His strength and righteousness.

In these uncertain times, in this dangerous world, we can live courageously.  Walk in faith, your hand in His.  He has promised He will never leave you or forsake you.  You need not fear what men can do unto you. (Hebrews 13:5, 6)

Fear not.

fear not Isaiah

O, Christmas Tree!

Sometime this week I will put up our Christmas tree.  I know I am a little late by some people’s standards—even by my own tradition from years past.  The Christmas tree usually went up on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.  It’s been going up later and later every year, though—and last year we did not have a Christmas tree at all!  That was not by design, however.  True, I had dragged my feet a bit, but then suddenly I ended up making an unexpected trip to California a week before Christmas to stay with my grandchildren while their parents were away and didn’t get home until Christmas was over.

And if I don’t trim the tree myself, it just won’t get done.  Oh, Bob will bring in the boxes and set up our pre-lit tree, but then it’s up to me to put on the rest of the lights (the 400 lights that came attached to the tree aren’t enough for me—I want at least 1000!) and the 300 or so ornaments.  I quit putting all the ornaments on a few years ago.  When you’ve been married 45 years and seem to collect a dozen or so ornaments every year, they do tend to accumulate, and I’ve reluctantly had to edit.  It’s been a tradition in our family since its very beginning to give each person a special ornament every year that represents them in some way or highlights some special event in their life that year.  When the girls left home they took their “special” ornaments with them—all except their “Baby’s First Christmas” ornament which I kept—but we still keep accumulating.

It used to be fun when the girls were here to help me, but when they started families of their own and moved far away, decorating the Christmas tree kind of grew to be a lonely job.  And I’m feeling rather Grinch-ish this year.  I’ve always loved our tree with its 1000 multi-colored lights and all those memorable ornaments, but now it just seems like WORK.  I will set up the tree for Robbie’s sake, though.  He loves seeing the lights, and I show him many of the ornaments while I hang them, and let him hold some of them.  We get out his musical animated Christmas toys while we’re at it, and he enjoys them, as well, while Mama labors in the most persnickety way over the tree.

It seems I’m not the only one who has slacked off when it comes to putting up a Christmas tree.  Recent statistics tell us that although 92% of the people who say they celebrate Christmas put up a tree in theirchristmas-tree-stats childhood, only 79% say they do so now.  That’s still a lot of Christmas trees—some 33,000,000 real trees bought every year, and 9,500,000 artificial ones.  The Christmas tree does remain a beloved tradition for most of us—even those of us who become a little Grinch-ish this time of year.

Celebrating the birth of Christ truly is the reason for the season, and there are many parts of the true Christmas story that we hold dear—the angels, the star and wisemen, the shepherds—but many of our fondest Christmas  traditions are just that—simply traditions.  We know, for example, that Jesus was not actually born on December 25th, but that is the day Pope Julius I in Ad 350 proclaimed the official celebration date for the birthday of Christ and we still choose to celebrate Jesus’ coming to earth to dwell among men on that date. Some say that the origin of the Christmas tree had its beginning in pagan ritual, whether with the Druids or, even further back than that with the Babylonians. Jeremiah 10:1-4 even hints at that, “Hear what the Lord says to you, people of Israel. This is what the Lord says: “Do not learn the ways of the nation or be terrified by signs in the heavens, though the nations are terrified by them.  For the practices of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter.”  (Jeremiah 10:1-4)

There are some Christians who say that we should not have a Christmas tree in our homes for these reasons, and I must admit, these verses in Jeremiah gave me pause when I first read them.  We don’t have a tree in our home, however, as an object of adoration; we don’t worship Babylonian gods and goddesses.  On the contrary, in our home, at least, our Christmas tree is centered on what Christmas is truly all about—the birth of our Savior primarily and the blessings He gives us in salvation first, and the precious gift of family second.  The ornaments hung on our tree for the most part tell the Christmas story—angels, stars, wisemen, shepherds, baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the stable, the cross.  There are many photos and remembrances of loved ones, as well.Christmas-Quotes-25-225x300

When I look at my tree, I see Jesus and the wonderful truths from God’s Word about His birth and reason for coming to this earth:

The evergreen of its branches are a symbol of eternal, everlasting life in Him.  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

The star at the top reminds me of the star that led the wisemen to Bethlehem to find the Christ-child.   The Creator who hung the stars, placed that special star to point to Heaven and earth at the same time, and then left the glories of Heaven to come to earth Himself and dwell among men.  “…lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” (Matthew 2:9, 10)

Golden Christmas Tree WallpaperMy 1000 lights point to the One who came into this dark, sinful world to be the Light of the World.  “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

The garland wrapped around the tree remind me that we are wrapped in His love.  “The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

The angels on my tree represent the angels, messengers of God who came first to Mary, then to Joseph and finally to the shepherds in the field with a message of hope and salvation, peace and joy to them and to the world!   And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 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. (Luke 2:10 – 14)

Other special ornaments tell the story—Mary cradling her precious newborn baby; wisemen seeking the christmas candy canenewborn king; little shepherd boys; a cross that says Faith; a heart that says Peace; a star that says Joy; a little Bible representing God’s Word where Matthew 1 and 2 and Luke 1 and 2 tell the story in full; little churches representing the fellowship we have possible now with God and man.

Candy canes symbolize Jesus, His purity and His shed blood.  “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;” (Ephesians 1:7)

ChristmastreeornamentThe gifts beneath the tree remind us of the greatest gift of all—that God so loved the world that he gave His Son to be our Savior. “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” (II Corinthians 9:15)

And the tree itself speaks to another tree—the cross on Calvary’s hill where Christ’s blood was shed for our sins.  “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (I Peter 2:24)

Ok, so when we get out the boxes and totes this week to set up the tree and I’m feeling rather Grinch-y and bah-humbuggish, I am going to remind myself that our Christmas tree is not just a tradition, not just something to please Robbie, but it is a testimony of the beautiful Christmas story and a reminder of the amazing Gift—and gifts—with which our loving Heavenly Father has blessed us.