The Day The Jammies Did Me In

 

“They’re where?”

“China!”

“Did you order them from overseas?”

“Not unless you count Ohio as overseas.”

We’ve got a semi-tradition of having matching pajamas to wear Christmas morning when the kids are in town to celebrate. It’s only semi because we’ve done it just one year. Not everyone was here this year.

This had been planned. Instead of waiting until the last moment, as I do so well, my daughter had ordered these PJs at the end of November. Before Thanksgiving. Cute union suits with drop seats. The little guys would look adorable. The older grands would have been thoroughly embarrassed.

Two days before Christmas, she found out they were in China.

It made no sense how a shipment bound for Florida could end up in East Asia.

Does life ever make sense?

Needless to say, the anticipated jammies didn’t make it.

The disappointment came, however, not because of the lack of night apparel. We actually found some decent substitutes that looked great on the little guys. And the big guys were able to wear soccer shorts and old tee shirts. The gals found red striped pajamas for those of us who are older and red and black plaid for the younger girls.

Disappointment accompanied the plan that derailed. The unfulfilled expectation of something that sounded fabulous with Plan A; the need for Plan B was a letdown.

The Christmas morning pictures turned out well. No one would have known anything was amiss unless someone brought it up.

Seriously, who is going to get their knickers in a wad over something so small?

That’s just it. The big things that are challenging and push us to lean into faith are often easier to deal with than the small things that annoy. The big things can be risky, and when they don’t work out, I’m often not shocked. I’ll try again.

The small matters that should roll off my back like water off a duck are the things that undermine my confidence and joy. Bothersome. Made even more so because I don’t handle such situations well. I act as if I should get a pass on the tiny frustrations because I am willing to trust God with the big stuff.

Am I though?

The reflection of my true character is how I act when no one is looking. When I’m not “play acting” or trying to impress.

God is with me always. As His child, there’s never a time when He turns away from me–even when I’m not feeling too friendly toward Him at the moment.

He sees past the playacting, past the attempts at impressing, past the masks that I wear.

He sees me as I am. Accepts me where I am.

So why do I get my knickers in a wad?

Because I live in my stuff. I’m affected by who and what’s around me. And I often can’t see past the moment to the hope.

God does.

Because He knows all, with Him there is no Plan B.

I need to unwad those knickers.

 

 

 

 

‘Twas The Night Before The Big One

photo courtesy of Gareth Harper on unsplash

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the land,

There was hustling and bustling with what had been planned.

People dashing and darting from one store to others,

For last minute gifts for their friends and their mothers.

Dad was stuck in the lines at the shops at the mall,

Shopping till 10! Last-minute gift-buying for all.

Mom was at home, piles of gift wrap and ribbon,

Waiting to wrap all the gifts to be given.

Cookies were baking, Santa needed his sweets.

No time, no ingredients, no making of treats

Had happened in all of the holiday makings.

Mom now just groused at her holiday baking.

The kids were upstairs, their screens in their faces,

Not helping at all, wanting to be other places.

Dad finally returned, his arms full of treasure.

Mom looked at his face, devoid of all pleasure.

“It’s crazy out there; everyone’s in a hurry.

Christmas has turned into the season of scurry.”

“Get outa your coat and please lend me a hand.

Or the wrapping and cookies will not look so grand.”

They’d only been at it a minute or so

When a glance at the clock made Mom scream, “Oh, no!

“We’re gonna miss the midnight service for real

If we don’t move now!” Dad groaned, “We’ve not had our meal!”

“No time for that now. It’s Christmas. We have to go.

Church happens tonight! We can’t be no-shows!”

“We’re no-shows every other week in the year.”

“Not tonight. We’ll go. At church we’ll appear.”

The children were hurried out of their rooms,

Their faces a picture of misery and gloom.

With moanings and groanings of “Why must we go?”

They dressed very quickly, while arguing so.

They left for the church, no one happy or glad,

And made an appearance, though all were quite sad.

Jesus stood in the back, though no one could see Him,

Softly sobbed as He watched those He loved not know Him.

The music, spectacular. The singing, superb.

Not one person noticed the meaning of the words,

When they each left, saying “Merry Christmas to all”,

He watched one little girl stand in front, a brief stall.

He heard her exclaim, as He watched her sweet face,

“I love you, Jesus. Thank You so much for grace.”

May the hope and joy of God’s gift to us in the birth of our Savior, the One sent to give life to those who receive Him, be yours now and forever.

Merry Christmas!

Where’s The Rest In The Story?

 

It’s a few days before Christmas, and panic is settling in the hearts of the unprepared.

Like me.

Haven’t done the baking, haven’t gotten all the gifts, haven’t even thought of stocking stuffers. The decorations I thought of putting up are still in boxes.

Oh, the things I’ve not thought of!

My inbox is filled with the whispers of “last minute gifts, guaranteed to arrive on time”. Taunts of “the special gifts you know they’ll love”.

I don’t believe any of it.

What I do know is that at this time of year it’s easy for me to get sucked into the last-minute buying frenzy.  Wanting someone else to know what my family and friends need.

Bah humbug.

I’m no Scrooge, but I refuse to be sucked into the Christmas con of buy now, buy lots, spend more.

My ace in the hole this year is a tiny lad who knows precisely what he needs. He knows when to ask for it, knows when to chill, and sleep when he’s tired. He doesn’t care a whit what others “say” he needs.

Have you ever noticed how relaxed babies are when they’re sleeping? They tune out all that’s going on around them and close their eyes. Rest as it was intended to be.

Restorative.

When Beck wakes up, he’s slept as much as he needs. He then eats as much as he needs. Enough to meet what’s required for growth and health.

His peacefulness is contradictory to what I feel when falling asleep. I can’t turn my mind off. Responsibilities, people needs, deadlines. Did I finish what I was supposed to do? Did I forget anything–or anybody? With information at my fingertips, I can feel overwhelmed by the availability of facts and the need to know more to make good choices. Add to that the immediacy of connection, the urgency of required responses, and it feels like our convenience is a tough taskmaster.

Rest is a ceasing of work to refresh, restore and revive ourselves. Even in our play, we compete to be the best and lose sight of restorative fun.

We don’t know how to rest.

Christmas can often feel like a race to do everything. Expectations we put on ourselves to buy gifts, decorate the house, bake seasonal goodies and host holiday parties blinds us to the true rest of the season.

Jesus came to allow us to find rest for our souls. Not be overwhelmed by being good, hoping our best stuff outweighs our bad. He came to provide a ceasing of striving on our part to be something we can’t be.

Perfect.

When God rested on the seventh day, it was a sign of His finished work. When we rest, it’s a sign of our inability to work without ceasing.

Jesus’ arrival here was the provision for us for true eternal rest. The hope we need to pause and wait. To receive what we can’t provide for ourselves.

I’m taking a page from Beck’s book. He has to trust his parents to provide for his needs. So he can rest.

Trusting Jesus for rest?

Only in Him will I find my calm.

 

 

 

 

 

What’s In A Name?

 

A child cannot remain nameless for long. There are rules to follow–birth certificates to fill out. Social security forms to apply for.

Michael and Courtney had a trio of names picked out for their son when he was born.

Deciding which one and which order was a challenge.

The little guy had no opinion. No way to voice it even if he did.

It came down to Mom and Dad knowing who they knew him to be.

Beck Sullivan Wickberg.

A name makes you someone. The chance to be known and valued.

Bringing little Beck home identified him in another way. His home was also the home of two canine family members.

Wally and Foster did not know him yet.

They didn’t seem to care what his name was. This baby was an oddity in their home. A newcomer they didn’t know quite what to do with.

Someone who took attention from them.

The two dogs were frantic with joy at seeing their people return. I’d been staying with them, and though I was a friend, I wasn’t theirs. Yelps, leaps, and loving laps all around as Courtney and Michael walked through the door.

Then they realized their people weren’t alone.

Both dogs have been remarkably gentle with Beck. Getting to know him means being comfortable with their form of discovery. Licking his head. Sniffing him anytime he’s close enough. Touching him with their noses.

It’s not how I’m getting to know Beck. Holding him, cuddling him, talking to him, changing him. He’s learning to recognize my voice, which isn’t the same as his parents.

Chances are he’ll forget my voice in a week when I’m gone. Relationships that don’t have continued interaction aren’t sustainable. The more interaction I have with him, the more familiar and comfortable he’ll be with me.

When Jesus came into the world, Mary and Joseph knew exactly who He was. The Messiah, sent from God, the fulfillment of His promise made long ago. They named him Jesus–Yeshua–which means “Deliverer, Rescuer”. A name told them by the angel who’d visited them individually months before.

They didn’t question who this Child was or what He would do.

The shepherds came to know Him by a heavenly proclamation, being told by more angels that God’s Son had been born. They rushed to see Him. They accepted what many would struggle with–this Child born in a cave was the Son of God Almighty.

Many today give lip service to Jesus. Christmas is a celebration of His birth, the point in time where God entered our world in the form of Man. There is familiarity with the Baby in the manger.

Lip service doesn’t make for a relationship. Many don’t recognize Jesus for what He ultimately did. Why He really came.

It wasn’t to stay in a manger.

People come to Him in different ways. Through different stories. Finding Him, Messiah, as our personal Deliverer, is the greatest relationship we could have.

One day His name will be recognized by all. But all won’t know Him.

He speaks to us today–through the Bible and those who know Him.

How will you respond to His voice?

 

 

 

 

 

What About That Baby?

He came. Finally. Past the time we’d expected him to show up. Not the way we’d anticipated.

My daughter, Courtney, and her husband, Michael, were expecting their first child. A boy. It’s been a year for boys–this one was the fifth male born into our family this year.

I’d anticipated coming out to help when he was born. When her due date passed, Courtney suggested I wait a few days and get a flight out after her next appointment. At the very worst, the doctor said she’d induce her on December 15.

Ten days before Christmas.

I wanted to give these two as much of my time as I could, to help with tasks around the house like grocery shopping, cooking, and laundry. Just to give them time to rest. They were both exhausted. Labor lasted almost 36 hours after she was induced earlier than anticipated. (The doctor had concerns.)

I arrived in Denver early on December 11. They’d been admitted the day before, and it had been slow going. I was to wait at their home till I got word that the baby had come. I was more than a little tired, having gotten little sleep the night before. A nap sounded wonderful.

Visions of napping quickly flew out of my head when I opened the door and was bulldozed by two large, loving dogs. Foster, a fourteen-year-old Australian shepherd, is a soft-hearted, hairy marshmallow. Wally, a two-year-old sheepadoodle, is the Energizer Bunny on steroids.

Never have I had as much attention paid to me as I did from those two dogs. They were so glad to see me. Even convinced me to go outside to play fetch with them at 3 in the morning when my intent had been just to go to the bathroom.

Being up at that hour, however, allowed me to see the texts on my phone–and realize our much anticipated little guy had finally made his entrance into this world. I was ecstatic–he’d arrived.

When I met my new grandson, my heart was filled with love for this little guy I’d just met, a wonderful treasure I’d just discovered.

He didn’t do anything to earn that devotion from me. He showed up, the son of parents I deeply love.

A Child was born over 2,000 years ago who came in an unexpected way. A King born in humble surroundings, the only One who offers eternal hope. The first to greet him were shepherds who tended the flocks of sacrificial sheep for the Temple. Not a high-class job, but folks who understood the real significance of this birth.

He came to share an outrageous love with us. There’s nothing we can do to earn that love; we can receive it as a gift because His Father created us and didn’t want to lose us.

It’s easy to lose the significance of Christmas amidst the trappings of the holiday. But when faced with a love so grand meeting needs that are so great, settling for a token “Baby in a manger” isn’t enough.

Seeing past the wrapping to the true value of the Gift–outrageous love.

Who wouldn’t be encouraged by that?